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Yasia Fiesta! ... My AYD5 Highlights

Some kind of wonderful. That is how I would best describe my experience last November 20-27, 2009 with over 1,500 Catholic youth delegates from different parts of Asia. It was the 5th Asian Youth Day (AYD5), and for the first time, the Philippines played host to the biggest youth gathering of Asian Catholics.

Even as the year comes to a close, God continues to show great things in my life as a missionary, with this opportunity to join the AYD5 delegation of CFC Singles for Family and Life. Let me share with you here my favorite Yasia (for youth of Asia) moments:

  • Emmaus Walk – Also called the “Yasia Walk”, this was the most meaningful AYD activity for me, where we celebrated the Holy Mass in a very unique way: by re-living the Emmaus walk. We literally walked around the AYD site, and took a stop at specific stations to continue a part of the Holy Mass while reflecting on the experience of the two disciples as Jesus walked with them in Emmaus. I realized that, indeed, every time I attend mass, it is like talking a walk on that road to Emmaus, where I will surely encounter Jesus in the breaking of the bread and in the proclamation of the Word that will undoubtedly leave a fire burning in my heart.
  • Clergy – To see so many cardinals, bishops and priests from the Philippines and from all over Asia in Cavite for the AYD5 was an overwhelming affirmation of their love and support for the youth. The clergy has clearly shown that the youth has a special place in the life of the Church. The icing on the cake was the AYD message of the Holy Father, read by the Papal Nuncio. Pope Benedict exhorted the youth to remember a simple yet very powerful statement of the Blessed Mother in the gospel - “Do whatever He tells you.” AYD has inspired me to have a greater love for our priests and to intensify my prayers for them.
  • Confession – The opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation is always a “high” experience for me, for it was a moment of grace. It is said that heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents. I cannot imagine the wild party that happened in the heavens that night as hundreds of youth went to confession. It must have been a sight to behold. God is so good that there were priests available to listen to the confession of the delegates in their respective dialect or language.
  • Liturgy – Everything that went right in the AYD happened whenever we celebrated the Holy Mass. There was daily Mass and each Mass was a beautiful manifestation of the unity of the Church in Asia. Coming together as youth of different skin colors, language, culture and tradition, the Holy Eucharist sealed our common faith in the one Lord. My experience of the liturgy at the AYD with youth coming from all over Asia made me witness so visibly that we are one body sharing one bread and one cup of blessing.
  • Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament – A quiet time with God is the time most well-spent. The AYD gave us this opportunity and guided us in our reflection through the Taize meditative prayer. To be in the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament (whether in the AYD or anywhere else) will always be unforgettable.
  • Sit on the floor … forever! – It was “Yasia Fiesta!” and “Yasia wa silya!” for me. Thank you God for giving me a very good reason to treat myself to a massage after the AYD. When you have to sit on the floor for hours without back rest (and you do that for five straight days), either you say “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”, or you ask yourself if, perhaps, you are already too old to be attending AYD (haha!)
  • Interaction with Catholic youth from over 25 countries – Maria from Spain, Victor from Rwanda, Kimlyly from Cambodia, Arun from Bangladesh, Jeff from Hongkong, Adie from East Timor, Mary Ann from Naga, Von from Valenzuela, Shaira from Palawan, MJ from Lanao and so many other new friends, praise God! It is especially inspiring to know so many youth persevering in their Catholic faith despite the challenge that they are in the minority religious group in most of Asia. AYD is especially memorable because it has given me the chance to encounter the best Asian youth of all – Jesus (yes, He is Asian!; and still part of the youth in His 30s!). He is in the Word proclaimed in different dialects and languages, in the Body and Blood we receive, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in the hearts of everyone who was part of AYD. The whole week of interacting with youth from different provinces and countries has also given me a greater appreciation for the huge blessing of being baptized as a Catholic in the Philippines where I have the freedom to openly express my faith - to carry my Bible, to go to mass daily, to pray anywhere at anytime, to talk about God to anyone. It is not the same for many brothers and sisters in Asia. This encourages me to pray for them too.
  • AYD5 Theme Song – We have sang and danced to this song a million times for one week. It just had to be on this list. You hear the first note and … ting! delegates drop everything and start to sing-and-dance. The AYD is over, but I can still hear the song in my head…“Yasia Fiesta! Come together and celebrate …”
  • Lots (and I mean lots) of AYD volunteers – I would like to believe that these volunteers have all given it their best. They said ‘yes’ when AYD organizers asked for help. For all that may have gone wrong, I still praise God for people who step up and say ‘yes’ when there is a call to help for a good cause, especially for the youth. AYD will surely not be the same without them.

In the end, it was simply that - ECCLESIAL (Emmaus-Clergy-Confession-Liturgy-Exposition-Sit-Interaction-AYD song-Lots of volunteers). We are a community of Asian Catholic youth coming together, sharing the Word and living the Eucharist.

Bishop Tagle put it beautifully that the 5th Asian Youth Day ended just as we are about to begin the advent season. As the AYD delegates go back to their respective youth ministries, provinces and countries, the advent does bring a new season for the Catholic Church in Asia. And so goes the ending of the AYD theme song “Through us, the Bread of Life, brings a new season of grace! Yasia Fiesta!"

Contributed by:

Marie Relucio
CFC-FFL Missionary

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