The Singapore contingent at Asian Youth Day. Photos by Michael Tan

SINGAPORE – 13 youths and representatives from the Youth Ministry Office (YMO) participated in the 5th Asian Youth Day (AYD) in the Philippines from Nov 20-27.

Participants were first attached to a parish in the Manila diocese and hosted by local families for three days to gain insight and experience into family and church life in the Philippines under the Days in the Dioceses programme. They participated in various parish-organised activities such as talks and visits to other parishes in Manila.

Then on Nov 23, the AYD began proper with a total of 1,500 delegates from across Asia assembling in the diocese of Imus to bond and to share their lives and experiences in relation to their youth ministries.

There were youths from nations such as China, Vietnam and Myanmar – where they do not enjoy religious freedom – who shared about their commitment and the challenges of being Christian in their home countries.

Shawn Wong from Church of St. Francis Xavier found the parish experience invaluable for the friendships made, insights gleaned and hospitality enjoyed.

He was attached to the parish of Santo Nino in the Tondo district, where he and other youths took part in events such as a talk on the political and culture climate of the Philippines, a cultural dance night, and an overnight vigil for the feast of Christ the King to pray and adore the Blessed Sacrament and street procession. Mr Wong also helped to distribute food to the needy of Tondo.

Michael Tan from Church of St. Francis of Assisi said he went there as an empty vessel, but returned deeply filled, and “re-injected with the vibrant youthful energy and the joy in the service of the Lord”. The youths in the Philippines taught him to love and serve unconditionally through their sacrifices and hard work put in to give the overseas visitors the best experience, Mr Tan said, marvelling that “some as young as 16 are involved in ministries in the diocese level”.

For Mark Tang from Church of St. Francis Xavier, the Filipino hospitality showed him the meaning of community life and inspired him to bring the spirit of community to his family and youth groups in his parish.

“Asian Youth Day has indeed lived out its theme of ‘Share the Word, Live the Eucharist’, which I will term in my own context as ‘Live in community, and share God’s love’,” said Mr Tang.

The AYD, first held in Thailand, takes place every two years. The next AYD will be held in 2011 in Korea.

(Written with information from the Youth Ministry Office)
By Darren Boon
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