Young Filipino Catholics told to be bearers of peace

Helping conflict-hit Mindanao focus of this year's National Youth Day celebrations
Young Filipino Catholics told to be bearers of peace

Participants perform a dance number during the National Youth Day celebrations in southern Philippine city of Zamboanga during the second week of November. (Photo by Jay Mangussad)

Young Filipino Catholics were challenged to be "bearers of peace" at the end of this year's National Youth Day celebrations in the southern city of Zamboanga.

In his send-off message, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato told participants "to make a difference" and share peace with everyone when they get home.

"I give the kind peace, peace in the mind and heart, peace between you and your neighbor, and where there is peace God’s love is the electricity that bonds two people," said the prelate.

The cardinal noted that so many people have died because of "un-peace."

"There are deaths around us because of un-peace," said the prelate, noting that there is "insecurity" and peace is at stake especially in the country's southern region.

More than a thousand people, including civilians, were killed during five-months of fighting in the city of Marawi after terrorists attacked the city on May 23.

"How can you be bearers of peace?" Cardinal Quevedo asked the young people at the end of the gathering on Nov. 10.

More than 2,000 young Filipino Catholics from 82 dioceses attended the gathering, which was envisioned to be part of "Mindanao’s healing process" after the fighting in Marawi.

Father Conegundo Garganta, head of the Episcopal Commission on Youth of the bishops' conference, said the gathering was "a big boost to help raise the confidence and trust of the people."

He said the event showed "solidarity despite the apprehensions to send young people" to Mindanao.

In his message for the gathering, Pope Francis said he "trusts that the Filipino young people will grow bigger in faith and stronger in love and become missionary disciples."

Rome Castillo, a delegate from Antipolo Diocese in the northern part of the country, said he was amazed to see people in Mindanao "without hints of relapse from past tragedies."

"We encountered Muslim volunteers, now I realized religion is not a cause of division, instead our faith binds us," said Castillo.

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