Thousands of Timor-Leste Catholics take part in a feast of Corpus Christi procession in Dili May 26. (ucanews.com photo by Thomas Ora)
A procession celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi is a way of helping the predominantly Catholic population of Timor-Leste preserve their faith in the face of challenges brought on by globalization, said the bishop of Dili.
"The Corpus Christi celebration is important for Timorese people as a reminder that becoming a Catholic is a lifelong process," said Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili after one such procession of over 4,000 people made its way through the streets of the Timor-Leste capital, May 26. The feast formerly known by that name is now called the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ and is traditionally celebrated with processions.
"It's not just about receiving baptism or getting married in the church, but also about willingness to undergo a lifelong process to maintain faith in Christ," said Bishop Da Silva.
Timorese nuns participating in the feast of Corpus Christi procession in Dili. (ucanews.com photo by Thomas Ora)
Corpus Christi was made a public holiday in the small Southeast Asian nation to assist the Timorese people to reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
An estimated 97 percent of the country's 1.2 million people are Catholics.
According to Bishop Da Silva, Dili Diocese has made catechism a priority, especially among the young.
"In the era of globalization, catechism is crucial to preserve people's faith, particularly young Catholics," he said.
Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili says such events as the the Feast of Corpus Christi procession are important ways for the country’s youth to retain their faith. (ucanews.com photo by Thomas Ora)
Goris Silveira, 38, coordinator of a Catholic youth group at the seminary for Dili Diocese, agreed with the bishop on the procession's importance for young Timorese Catholics.
"Looking at so many young people taking part in the procession means that they can identify themselves with it, and they are not far away from faith in Jesus," said Silveira.
The group called "Single Heart Seminary, Single Heart Mary" is a Catholic martial arts group that has thousands of members in Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Several priests in Central Java, who mastered the Indonesian martial art form of "Pencak Silat," established the youth group in the early 1980s. The group focuses on Catholic teachings of love, strength, and humility and includes martial arts related physical exercises.
Part of the procession celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi in Dili. The young people dressed in blue (left) are members of the Catholic youth group Single Heart Seminary, Single Heart Mary. (ucanews.com photo by Thomas Ora)