(Vatican Radio) The next international youth festival of the Focolare Movement is being hosted in the Philippines next year. The countdown has begun for the 11th GenFest, and thousands of young people from around the world are preparing themselves for the July 6-8, 2018 event in Manila. The main event will be held in the World Trade Centre Metro Manila, while all the workshops will be held at De La Salle University.
The GenFest, a gathering of young people from across the globe, is part of the Focolare Movement started in 1943 by Chiara Lubich, a charismatic Italian Catholic lay woman. The Focolare Movement started as a current of spiritual and social renewal to work in cooperation with people of all good will in order to build a more united world, following the inspiration of Jesus’ prayer to the Father ‘May they all be one’ (Jn 17:21), respecting and valuing diversity. It focuses on dialogue as a method, has a constant commitment to building bridges and relationships of fraternity among individuals, peoples and cultural worlds.
“Beyond All Border”
“Beyond All Border” is the theme of GenFest 2018 in the Philippines, home to Asia’s largest Catholic population. The theme intends to focus the boundaries that need to be overcome at personal and social levels. This will be manifested in typical GenFest style with artistic manifestations, music, dances, expositions, and forums to enable everyone to think differently and to transform life into something more beautiful.
Youth delegates from 14 countries across the world, including India are to attend the Manila GenFest. They hail from different cultures, nations, and religions. Registrations will be open in October 2017.
GenFest, a major event of Focolare’s “Youth for a United World” (Y4UW) movement, brings together young people between the ages of 17 and 30 of different ethnicities, nationalities and cultures. They belong to various Christian denominations, different religions, or do not profess a religious belief, but all are united by the desire to build a more united world.
Asia’s youth power
In terms of youth, Asia is regarded as the continent of the future and of young people. The US Census Bureau data indicate that three billion young people in the world are below 25 years of age and 60% of these live in Asia. And so, almost half of the Asian populations (over 4 billion people) are under 25.
“It is clear that the event could not but be held in our continent in Asia,” said Kiara Cariaso, a Filipino and member of the GenFest organizing team. “We want the world to see not only the network of projects, camps, solidarity actions, support to lawfulness, and “no” to war and armaments but also the solitude, abandonment and superficial relationships which millions of youth scattered around the world are already engaged in,” Cariaso added.
Marco De Salvo of the Y4UWY central secretariat noted that “many of the youths live in territories of war, conflict and social distress.” “This is the frontline where many have chosen to start changing the world,” he said.
Raffael Torquini, Brazilian, of the GenFest Marketing Team said, “We want to be there where we see the needs and hear our people’s cries for help at all latitudes.” “There are infinite challenges and barriers but what matters is to overcome them together and take one step ahead towards unity,” Torquini added.
Since the first GenFest in 1973 in Loppiano, Italy, the youth rallies have been held in intervals of 2 to five years, with the last one held in Budapest, Hungary in 2012.