(Vatican Radio) The Asian Youth Day (AYD), a major event of the Catholic Church in the continent, is taking centre stage in 2 weeks time in Yogyakarta in the Archdiocese of Semarang, Indonesia. Over 2000 young people from 21 Asian countries are gathering in the central Javanese city, August 2-6, for the 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7) on the theme, “Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia!”
The Youth Desk under the Office of Laity and Family of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) in collaboration with the bishops’ conference of host country organizes the meet. AYD7 is an outcome of the World Youth Day that was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1985. The first AYD was held in Hua Hin, Thailand in 1999. Since then the continent-level event has been held in intervals of 2, 3 and 5 years, with the last AYD held in Daejeon Dicoese in Korea in 2014 which Pope Francis attended.
Organizers have divided the entire AYD7 into three events spread across 11 days from July 30 to August 9, with the main event in the centre. On arrival, the participants will head to the 11 of Indonesia’s 37 dioceses who will be hosting them from July 30 to August 2 for what is called Days in the Dioceses (DID). There they will interact and share experiences with their counterparts from Indonesia and other countries. All the participants will then converge in Yogyakarta from August 2 to 6 which is the central event of the AYD7. With each day having a sub-theme of the main theme, “Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia,” the 5 days will include a variety of activities such as adoration, confession, Mass, testimonies, workshops, group sharing, country exhibition and cultural performances. The AYD7 will wind up with the Asian Youth Ministers Meeting, August 6 to 9.
Among the 21 countries participating in the AYD7 is also India. To know about it, we called Fr. Deepak K.J. Thomas, the executive secretary of the Council for Youth of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). The Indian Catholic Church’s youth ministry is coordinated by the Council for Youth through the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) that is spread across all the dioceses and regions of the country. The ICYM also coordinates national delegation to World Youth Day, Asian Youth Day and other such meets. Speaking to us from New Delhi on his mobile phone Fr. Deepak first told us how many Catholic youth are participating in the meet:
Fr. Deepak, who has been serving as executive of the Council for Youth since August 2015, said that there were 84 young people representing India at the AYD7. Fr. Deepak said since it is difficult for the participants to come together physically in one place from the far-flung regions to prepare for the AYD, they are very much connected with one another online via email, Whatsapp and ICYM’s own app (for Apple and Android devices) which has a special link to the AYD7.
The 84 participants were chosen by the dioceses and diocesan youth directors of all the regions of India. Fr. Deepak said all participants are bearing their own expenses, with ICYM office bearers having a little discount.
On landing in Indonesia, the Indian youth delegation will head for the Archdioceses of Palembang and Pontianiak to which they have been assigned for the first phase of the AYD – Days in the Diocese. As for the cultural show, he said, they will be presenting one from the western region and one from Goa. An during the main AYD7 event in Yogyakarta, they will be presenting a combined 10-minute show of dance and music.
The 21 participating countries have also been asked to prepare an exhibition on Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical “Laudato Si”. Fr. Deepak said India will also have a booth on caring for our common home.