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  • Sr Sharon Palencia, OND

Catholic Youth Celebrates 38th WYD 2023

Updated: Jan 8

Port Moresby: With the theme, “Rejoice in Hope” the Archdiocese of Port Moresby and some other Dioceses in Papua New Guinea (PNG) meaningfully and successfully celebrated the 38th World Youth Day (WYD) 2023. World Youth Day is celebrated annually on a local level and every two or three years with an international gathering with the Pope. In November 2021, Pope Francis moved the local celebrations of World Youth Day from Palm Sunday to the feast of Christ the King. The annual diocesan celebration "can more easily generate a commitment in young people that will change the face of the society in which they live and increase their sense of belonging”, Vatican news stated.

More than two thousand (2,000 est.) youth participated in the said gathering in their respective archdiocese/dioceses. In the Archdiocese of Port Moresby, almost 500 young people attended the four-day event held at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Bomana last November 23-26, 2023. The program of activities focused on the spiritual and human development of the youth. They were nourished spiritually by the Holy Mass, prayers, adoration and sacrament of reconciliation. Sessions on Synodality was given by Fr. Angel Savio Sanchez, SDB and HIV/AIDS awareness was tackled by Sr. Geraldine Arua, OLSH. While the emphasis on the theme and message of Pope Francis was highlighted by Sr. Sharon Palencia, OND (The newly CBC Commission on Youth Secretary). The youth showcased their talents and enjoyed their fun-filled games too. They were grateful for the experiences especially for the new ones who just participated. The gathering ended with a closing Mass presided by Fr. Justin Nenat, SVD Archdiocese of POM vicar general.

Likewise, the following Dioceses: Kerema, Aitape, Rabaul, and Lae had their own way of celebrating the local world youth day. In the Diocese of Kerema, the parishes are hosting the WYD and spent 3 days for their activities. The parish youth animators are the one animating the flow of the program with the support of their parish priest and youth members. Similarly, in Rabaul Diocese, the gathering was celebrated by parish. The youth coordinator moved around in every parish to cover the topic; “Youth in a Changing Society”. In Aitape Diocese, they had 3 days gathering. They started the program with a day of recollection, Divine Mercy procession, a session on the Eucharist given by Fr. Norbert Anzac, OFM and followed with adoration. They ended the gathering with a Holy Mass. Furthermore, with Lae Diocese, they decided to push the celebration down to deanery level so that everyone can participate considering the geographical location.

The youth has maximized the opportunity to integrate with others at the same time learning to walk together in the spirit of synodality. They become more aware of the things that are essential and engage themselves in communion, participation and mission. They try to promote self-reliance as they take the responsibility for their food, transportation, etc. The leadership and facilitating skills are very commendable in our young people. They can animate the programs and activities with creativity and enthusiasm. They have full energy in terms of sports and outdoor activities. They are encouraged to give importance to the sacraments and become prayerful.

Amidst the many challenges they encounter, they remain hopeful. Indeed, the message of Pope Francis for the youth re-enforced and strengthened them to “Rejoice in Hope”. Quoted the words of Pope Francis, he gives a concrete suggestion: “each day, try to share a word of hope with others. Try to sow seeds of hope in the lives of your friends and everyone around you. For hope is humble, it is a virtue that is built up day by day…“Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world!” (Christus Vivit, 1).By witnessing to the Gospel values may our youth of today become the salt and the light of the world, continue to walk together and always rejoicing in hope.

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