By Robin Gomes
The National Youth Day (NYD) celebrations of the Philippine Catholic Church kicked off on Wednesday in the central Archdiocese of Cebu with at least 15,000 young Catholics attending.
The opening event at the Cebu City Sports Complex ended with Sinulog dances by different groups.
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu welcomed the delegates on April 24 at the Cebu City Sports Complex, telling them that to “trust in the memory of God and His memory is not the hard disk that saves and archives all our data.”
“God’s memory,” he said, “is a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in deleting from us every trace of evil.” “So, God deletes evils in our hearts. He deletes our sins,” he told the young people.
Archbishop Palma held out the figure of St. Pedro Calungsod, a martyr from the Visayas, as a perfect example for the youth.
The various events and programmes will centre around the NYD theme: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your word.”
A highlight of the five-day gathering is the youth festival of art, music and culture, which is being held in 9 locations across Metro Cebu.
After the opening ceremony, the participants went in procession to the grounds of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino for the inaugural Mass. The procession featured floats of St. Pedro Calungsod, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph, and the Santo Nino of Cebu.
5th centenary of Christ in the Philippines
The National Youth Day that concludes on Sunday, is part of the Catholic Church’s current Year of Youth which, in turn, is part of a 9-year preparation for the 2021’s “grand celebration” of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
The Archbishop of Cebu said, “In the next five days, we join our hearts and voices in thanking the Lord for the gift of faith barely 500 years ago when Christianity came to our country.”
The first Mass was said to have been celebrated in the central Philippines upon the arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in March 1521.
Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian of Bangued, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth of the Catholic Bishops Confernce of the Philippines (CBCP), wished that young people strengthen their faith in God in order to be more active in serving others. He urged the delegates to learn how to always stand for truth.
Security measures after Sri Lanka massacre
In the wake of the terrible bombing attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas is providing security during the NYD celebrations.
At least 1,000 police and 500 soldiers were present during the opening ceremonies in Cebu.
Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia of Italy, will join the young pilgrims on Saturday in events that will include a Pilgrim Walk, Eucharistic Adoration, Grand Festival Night Hudyaka, Youth Jam, and camp-out at the Cebu City Sports Complex.