By Santosh Digal
Manila: Bishops in the Philippines have urged young Catholics in the country to turn up in large number at an international youth gathering in July.
The Genfest youth festival, organized by the Youth for a United World of the Focolare Movement (Y4UW), will be held in Manila on July 6- 8.
Around 15,000 young people from all over the world, including young Filipinos from 86 Catholic dioceses are expected to meet in Manila, all moved by the same ideal of unity—through sharing of experiences, artistic expression and participation in workshops and social actions—among people of various cultures, races, and different extracts of society; groups and movements, among Christians of various denominations and faithful of other beliefs.
“It is a meeting of young people, 18 to 34 years old, who want to show the world that universal brotherhood, a united world, is an ideal worth living for,” Avam Inocencio, Genfest organizing person said.
The festival was born from a prophetic intuition of Chiara Lubic, founder of the Focolare Movement, and started in 1973 (even before World Youth Day began). “It is the first time it will be held in Asia and outside Europe,” Inocencio explained.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has endorsed the event. Several bishops have encouraged Catholic youth to support and attend Genfest.
“It would be good to send delegates from every parish to this big event,” said Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco of Cubao.
“The CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Youth recognizes the gains this coming together will be able to contribute to life our Church and her youth. We hope that many of our young people will have a full experience of our solidarity and unity as they receive pastoral support to the Genfest 2018,” said Leopoldo C. Jaucian of Bangued and chairman of The CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Youth.
He also encouraged students from Catholic schools and colleges to attend this rare event and Catholic families around Manila to host the delegates during the whole event.
“The Genfest is a great event that we are highly anticipating. It is a meeting of young people who want to show the world that universal brotherhood, a united world is an ideal worth living for. This international activity has indeed moved many a youth to a life of unity. The country would love to welcome all delegates from all over the world, from the most various cultures and ethnic groups all moved by the same idea, not only to an experience of life but also social action: unity,” said Archbishop Socrates b. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, former CBCP president.
Delegates come from different faiths, cultures, and social backgrounds of all the continents, with a special focus on those from communities affected by conflicts, poverty and natural disasters and curious young people who want to get out of their comfort zones and align their lives to a great ideal.
With the theme “Beyond all borders” is the 11th edition of the Genfest that offers a formation on ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue for young people through modern approaches. It provides opportunities for them to experience and exchange on cultures and traditions, exchanges best practices, tools. This provides them a real perspective for a sustainable change, to exchange ideas on how the economy, the arts, the environment, social realities and diverse cultures can be tools to build unity and to discover that everyone is a member of one human family despite the diversities, said Inocencio.
“The Genfest aims to plant ‘seeds of unity’ in the hearts of all its participants so that after the event, they may be inspired to bring unity wherever they are especially in the parishes where they belong,” he added.
The Genfest would also serve as a precursor for the upcoming National Year of the Youth in 2019 and National year of Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue in 2020 in the Philippines, as delineated by CBCP in order to mark 500 years arrival of Christianity in the Philippines (2021).
Focolare Movement is an international lay movement composed of people from all walks of life, faiths, and culture, founded by Lubich in 1943. It is currently present in 194 countries. Its goal is to contribute to a united world, respecting the identity of each one; promoting the spirit of universal brotherhood in every field of social, economic, political and cultural life.
The Y4UW is composed of the youth of the Focolare movement. It explores ways to build a more united world, to heal divisions in families, between generations, and among different social groups. It engages in different social action to help the marginalized, including campaigns to support peace, human rights, international solidarity, global citizenship, public, local and world events.