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Catholic Youths in Asia assert unity in diversity 

Matters India Reporter

Yogyakarta: The 7th Asian Youth Day, a congregation of over 2000 Catholic youths from 22 Asian countries concluded in Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s cultural capital with a call for increased “love, harmony and unity” by living the joy of the Gospel.

The Asian Youth Day in Indonesia from 2-6 August, on the theme, “Joyful Asian Youth! Living The Gospel in Multicultural Asia,” concluded with a message for unity in diversity.
“God is our joy and our hope. We can inspire others by living the joy of the Gospel in our diverse and ever-changing societies to create a world of love, harmony, and unity as missionaries of joy”, stated the youths.

Ms. Thiya (single name), an Indonesian youth who participated in the AYD told Matters India that the gathering inspired her to be “more joyful and celebrating as a Christian” and it was amazing to be in the company of young people from many countries and cultures united in one single identity.

“The young people are joyful people. They are full of hope. They are not influenced by the differences, but united in their identity as youth”, said the 21 year old youth who rated the outcome of AYD as “celebration of unity in Jesus”.

The Final statement presented in the closing of the AYD also underlined the need for strengthening the network among youths through social media, and effective use of modern technology.

“We face problems and challenges in living our Catholic faith and live in a globalized era that impacts our life””, said the Final statement, which observed that rapid technological advances gave rise to “consumerism, addictions, and loss of our own identity”. However, “we cannot avoid modernization”, it said.

“We are armoured by our talents, bravery, compassion and determination”, stated the youth who asserted that they have the capabilities to overcome their challenges and problems.

Living in a multi cultural context, the Catholic Youth need to assert their identity, yet work closely with other communities in brotherhood, the statement asserted.

“In this multicultural Asia, where we live amongst different religions, languages, ethnicities and customs, it is important for us to reach out to those who are different from us”, the statement said.

The Indonesian youth, Thiya pointed out that several Muslim youths have served as volunteers in hosting the 7th AYD in Indonesia, making it an inter-religious, inter-cultural unity celebration.

“We saw how it is to live in a society where we speak different languages and practice, different faiths especially during the moments we shared with more than a hundred Muslim youths”, the statement from AYD said.

The youths said these multicultural encounters helped them to see their faith in a new light.

“We are all young, joyful people. To live a joyful life, we cannot do it alone. We need fellowship”, said the statement which asserted to draw inspiration from Jesus to strengthen the unity and strength.

The youths saw nothing wrong with the social media or advanced technology as it can further unite youths.

“Since technology and social media has become such an integral part of our lives as young people, we will use these tools responsibly to spread positivity and goodness rather than negativity and hate”, the statement asserted.

Father Johannes DwiHarasanto, the Head of the steering committee for hosting the AYD told Matters India that the 7th AYD was unique in several matters, and the most significant among them was the effective involvement of the Muslim youths in the organizing of the event.

He said that one of the message of 7th AYD was that despite celebrating unity in Catholic faith, the youth be able to celebrate their joyful life also with other cultures and faiths.

Indonesia is predominantly a Muslim country, but Christians, Buddhists and Hindus too live in harmony and peace in this country, he pointed out.

The 8th AYD will be hosted by India in 2020 in the Hindu dominated multi cultural context.

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