Young Asian Catholics find new ways to become evangelizers

Philippines conference teaches young adults to spread good news through 'the cloud'
Young Asian Catholics find new ways to become evangelizers

Participants at a gathering of young Asian Catholics in Manila perform a dance during the opening ceremonies in August. (Photo by Vincent Go)

Bringing the good news to "the cloud" is one of the challenges identified by some 100 young Asian Catholics who gathered in Manila to mark U.N. International Youth Day.

"Our young people are called to be evangelizers of a new continent — the Internet continent," said Father Eduardo Apungan, director for apostolate of the Claretian congregation, which organized the Aug. 11 event.

"Young people in Asia have a lot of things to share to the world," the priest said, adding that the youth are the "multipliers of evangelization."

Father Leo Dalmao, the Claretian provincial superior in the Philippines, said the gathering in Manila is an attempt to consolidate young people in Asia to become "evangelizers to other parts of the world."

"We in Asia, especially the young, play a very important role in terms of evangelization," said Fr Dalmao, adding that the activity in Manila is "our response to the challenge to use new media in evangelization."

The activities during the weeklong event include multimedia productions and discussions about the use of social media as tools "to evangelize the youth in the context of information technology."

"That's why the theme is 'Meeting Christ in the Cloud,'" Fr Dalmao said. 

But young Catholics in Asia also are facing a lot of challenges, especially in non-Christian countries.

In Japan, for example, "there are many young people who do not know or do not believe in God," said Shimizu Ayaka, 21, from Osaka, Japan.

"It is very challenging to be a Christian in my country," she said. "There are a lot of challenges in spreading the good news."

Gemma Doromal, a member of the Kaulo tribe in the southern Philippines, said the entry of modern technology to the hinterlands has "brought problems, immorality, and vices."

"We lost some of our young tribal leaders who were lured to the cities," the girl said in her local language.

Doromal said she joined the gathering in Manila "to learn how to deepen our experience with other young people." 

"What we will learn here, we will also share back to our tribe," she said.

On Aug. 11, other youth groups marked the International Youth Day in Manila with calls on young people "to go beyond the comforts of their homes, classrooms and the Internet and engage in social issues."

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The U.N. International Youth Day, Aug. 12, has been celebrated since 1999. This year, the theme is "Youth Civic Engagement."

Marc Lino Abila, president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, said that with the "deliberate disregard to the rights of the people," young people "must go out and be with the masses, hear their plight, and criticize social ills".

For Ayaka of Japan, "the keyword is joy".

"Christian life is a happy life," she said. "People ask me why I am happy, and I tell them because I am a Christian."

She said young Asian Catholics should not only be activists but become "happy witnesses of the Gospel".

"People find us attractive, and I think this is an opportunity for us to introduce God to them, whether in the streets or on the Internet," said Ayaka.

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