AYD celebration in Indonesia

The 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD) kicked off in Indonesia on July 30 with the preliminary event “Days in Dioceses,” where over 2000 Catholic youth from 21

Aug 12, 2017

INDONESIA: The 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD) kicked off in Indonesia on July 30 with the preliminary event “Days in Dioceses,” where over 2000 Catholic youth from 21 Asian countries were hosted in 11 Indonesian dioceses from July 30 to Aug 2. They then converged in Yogyakarta city, in Semarang Archdiocese, for the main AYD event, August 2-6.

Each of the AYDs held since 1999 in intervals of 2, 3 or 5 years, in various cities of Asia, had a specific theme. The theme this time — Joyful Asian Youth: Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia! — underscored the need for Asian youth to follow Christ amidst the immense variety of Asia’s cultural and natural diversity, of which Indonesia is a prime model.

With some 17,000 islands dotting its vast expanse of some 1.9 million sq km., Indonesia is the largest archipelagic nation in the world. It is home to over 300 ethnic groups speaking more than 700 languages. With more than 85 percent of its 250 million population professing Islam, it is home to the world’s largest Muslim population and is the 4th most populous country. Yet, officially, it is a secular state with the Indonesian Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion, although the state officially recognises only six religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism).

Roselinah Francis, of the Diocese of Keningau (Malaysia), expressed her appreciation for “Days in the Diocese’: “They allowed us to have first-hand experiences on the expression of people’s faith. I was happy to be in Bali, where there is a Hindu majority. The faith of Catholics here in Denpasar is really touching.” Roselinah is one of the youth leaders of her diocese. She also participated in the previous AYD edition in Seoul, which also saw the presence of Pope Francis. About 100 Malaysian young people who arrived in Indonesia were in Denpasar and Palembang diocese.

Nhem Sophead, Phnom Penh, is a kindergarten teacher. Speaking to AsiaNews she said, “I feel good here in Bali, meeting Catholic friends and families and exchanging facts and experiences. All this was possible thanks to AYD. Living AYD in a country like Indonesia, with an Islamic majority,” she added, “gives food for thought to Cambodians who live in a Buddhist majority nation.”

Gregorius Ambot, 33, of Ruteng (Indonesia) was “grateful for all these young people here in Bali who were doing their best to make us feel at home.” In addition to living with families, the days were marked by Mass, by sharing of faith, Bible readings, drama and dances.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Indonesia’s ambassador to the Holy See, Antonius Agus Sriyono, noted that by hosting the 7th AYD, his country wanted to emphasise the need for young people of Asia and Indonesia to promote and respect unity amidst diversity. Vatican Radio Stefano Lesczynski who interviewed Sriyono, first asked him about the expectations of the Catholic and Christian communities from the AYD in Indonesia. Ambassador Sriyono said that young people are very important for Indonesia in the coming decade. It is important for young Indonesian Catholics to promote and respect the ideal of Indonesia’s unity. In all Asian countries too, he said, there is the need to maintain unity amidst their diversity and variety. “Let us together respect diversity,” he said.

By hosting the 7th AYD, Sriyono continued, Indonesia wanted to emphasise the first principle of the Pancasila, which is respect for other faiths and the second principle — respect for differences based on humanity.

The Indonesian ambassador to the Holy See also spoke about the need for interfaith dialogue in order to curb the growth of radicalism in his country. He said interreligious dialogue creates understanding amidst differences. “Dialogue is important to bridging differences,” he said. -- Vatican Radio/Asianews

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