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Participants arrive for 7th Asian Youth Day

At least 2,000 young people begin live-in program ahead of main Aug. 2-6 event in Indonesia

Participants arrive for 7th Asian Youth Day

Young people perform a traditional dance to welcome participants for the live-in program, part of the 7th Asian Youth Day celebrations, in Yogyakarta. (ucanews.com photo)



More than 2,000 young people from 21 Asian countries have arrived in Indonesia to celebrate the 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD) in Yogyakarta, which kicked off with the preliminary three-day live-in program beginning July 30.

The young participants will stay with local Catholic families in 11 archdioceses and dioceses, including Jakarta Archdiocese and Bogor Diocese, ahead of the main Aug. 2-6 festivities.

"We gather here because we believe in Jesus Christ. We are joyful to bring his teachings to a multicultural group of people," Franciscan Bishop Paskalis Bruno Syukur of Bogor said in his homily during Mass at the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in Bogor, West Java.

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He called on participants to become witnesses in striving for social justice and peace as well as in preserving nature.

"We celebrate our diversity in Christ who unites us," he said.

The live-in program aims at encouraging the young people to experience how local Catholic families live, said Franciscan Father Jemianus Hendrik Rance Tnomat, youth moderator at St. Paschal Parish in Jakarta.

"We deliberately sent them to Catholic families who face problems, such as difficulty in holding rosary prayers in neighborhood communities because of opposition by local [Muslims]," he said.

"We hope that they — with the AYD's theme 'Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia' — will understand what these Catholic families have to experience," he told ucanews.com.

The program gives participants an opportunity to visit poor areas and places of worship.

"It is hoped that they will share what they get from the program with people in their own countries," he said.

Therese Maria Abigail V. Ledesma from the Philippines said she is looking forward to learning about cultural differences.

"I want to see the differences in the cultures between the Philippines and Indonesia. I am looking forward to really knowing [her live-in family] family and sharing what I can with them," she said.

The 21-year-old believes the program serves as a good encounter experience.

"I will share my openness to new ideas, new people, meeting new personalities and opening myself to new experiences from people I meet," she said, promising to share those experiences with other young people in her country.

Joan Chan, 21, from Hong Kong hoped the program will "enrich our Catholic faith."

The AYD is held every three to five years. The first was held in Thailand in 1999.

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