(Vatican Radio) The 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD7) kicked off with a colourful concelebrated Mass Wednesday evening in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in a colourful and festive show of unity around Christ and his Gospel amidst the continent's diverse cultures and peoples.
After four days of the preliminary ‘Days in the Dioceses’ (DID) live-in programme in 11 Indonesian dioceses, July 30- August 2, the over 2000 young Catholics from 21 countries converged in Yogyakarta, the cultural and intellectual heartland of Indonesia. The 7th Asian Youth Day on the theme “Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia,” will conclude on Aug. 6.
Youth participants had begun pouring in at Yogyakarta’s government facility, Jogja Expo Centre (JEC), since early morning, August 2. After lunch the various national contingents began celebrating with songs and performances and shared their DID experiences of living with local families in dioceses, in preparation for the Eucharistic celebration.
The inaugural AYD7 Mass, that was streamed live by organizers, was presided over by Bangladeshi Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, chairman of the Office of Laity and Family of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), under which comes the Youth Desk that organizes the AYD in collaboration with the country’s bishops’ conference body and its youth commission. Joining Card. D’Rozario at the altar were 52 bishops, including 6 cardinals and 158 priests. Among the concelebrants were AYD host Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang, Indonesian bishops’ president, Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta and President of Indonesian bishops’ Youth Commission, Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang.
Card. D’Rozario began his homily singing a few lines from the hymn, “Rejoice in the Lord always….” setting the mood of his reflection on the theme of the AYD7– “Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia.” The young people, many in traditional dress and country t-shirts and holding their country flags, joined in with rhythmic clapping accompanied by the piano. The cardinal explained that the reason for their joy was that Jesus loves them, despite their unworthiness and sinfulness. He said when they feel sad or without joy, it is then that Jesus loves them most. Jesus loves them by calling them, choosing them and sending them out to mission, to proclaim His love, mercy, compassion and healing to others.
Card. D’Rozario compared the AYD gathering to the Pentecost where people of diverse cultures, languages, ethnic groups and nations of Asia were one in the Holy Spirit who manifests Himself in a variety of gifts. The Holy Spirit was inviting them all to celebrate their oneness of faith, life and mission at the WYD.
After dinner, the AYD7 was officially launched with a variety programme in which the participating countries showcased thier cultural richness.