Bringing the good news to "the cloud" is one of the challenges identified by some 100 young Asian Catholics who gathered in the Philippine capital Manila to mark the United Nations International Youth Day. "Our young people are called to be evangelizers of a new continent — the Internet continent," said Father Eduardo Apungan, director for apostolate of the Claretian congregation, which organized the event on Tuesday, the eve of the Aug. 12 International Youth Day. "Young people in Asia have a lot of things to share with the world," the priest said, adding that the youth are the "multipliers of evangelization." Father Leo Dalmao, the Claretian provincial superior in the Philippines, said the gathering in Manila is an attempt to consolidate young people in Asia to become "evangelizers in other parts of the world." "We in Asia, especially the young, play a very important role in terms of evangelization," said Fr Dalmao, adding that the activity in Manila is "our response to the challenge to use new media in evangelization."
The activities during the weeklong event include multimedia productions and discussions about the use of social media as tools "to evangelize the youth in the context of information technology." "That's why the theme is 'Meeting Christ in the Cloud,'" Fr Dalmao said. But young Catholics in Asia also are facing a lot of challenges, especially in non-Christian countries. In Japan, for example, "there are many young people who do not know or do not believe in God," said Shimizu Ayaka, 21, from Osaka, Japan.
"It is very challenging to be a Christian in my country," she said. "There are a lot of challenges in spreading the good news."
Gemma Doromal, a member of the Kaulo tribe in the southern Philippines, said the entry of modern technology to the hinterlands has "brought problems, immorality, and vices." "We lost some of our young tribal leaders who were lured to the cities," the girl said in her local language. Doromal said she joined the gathering in Manila to learn how to deepen their experience with other young people.
On Aug. 11, other youth groups marked the International Youth Day in Manila with calls on young people "to go beyond the comforts of their homes, classrooms and the Internet and engage in social issues." The theme of this year’s U.N. International Youth Day, was "Youth Civic Engagement."