Asian Youth Day (AYD) is an event that takes place every three years and draws young Catholics from all member countries of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). For 27-year-old Michael Irwanto Fame, “This is an event that happens once in a lifetime”.
The parish youth group leader at Holy Spirit Cathedral in Denpasar, Bali, said “I am grateful to be able to take part in Asian Youth Day. I hope this event will allow me to deepen and strengthen my faith in order to share more with other youth here in the Denpasar diocese. I am convinced that this event will give us, the youth of Indonesia, strength and enthusiasm to face God’s mission and bear witness to the Gospel in a youthful way”.
This meeting seeks to promote a culture of solidarity among young Asian Catholics and build deep awareness of their responsibilities in the Church and in society. AYD experience allows young people to participate in developing and planning their future spiritual life in an Asian context.
The coming edition will be the seventh and is set to take place from 30 July to 6 August in Jogyakarta, in the archdiocese of Semarang, on the Indonesian island of Java. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia’, by “speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God” (Acts 2:11).
The theme was chosen on the realisation that the Church is based on Asian culture and is part of it, that I can bring the hope, happiness and joy of the Gospel to the poor, the suffering, the afflicted and the marginalised. It is by definition multicultural, sharing values to create a better, decent, open, balanced and dignified life. Such values are based on the nature of human beings as created by God, and on their nature as social beings.
The 7th AYD is meant to offer young Catholics in Asia an opportunity to renew and deepen their faith as disciples of Jesus, witnessing the joy of God’s love in the context of multicultural Asia. It will present and share the testimony of faith of the local Church of Indonesia in the context of its socio-cultural-religious diversity and care for creation. It will promote young people’s involvement in the Church’s evangelising mission so that they can share the values of the Kingdom of God as joyful witnesses in interreligious dialogue and social outreach.
Michael and other young people from Holy Spirit parish in Denpasar will attend the AYD as delegates. The Denpasar diocese will be represented by a total of 30 young people.
Speaking enthusiastically about his experience as a young Indonesian Catholic, Michael said: “In my opinion, the Christian faith is God’s greatest gift. Having faith in Jesus is everything for me. He is the reference point of my life and I follow him with conviction and courage. I am inspired by His life and His actions.”
Yet, “Despite all the good things Jesus did, people of his time treated him unjustly and ignored his goodness and love.” Bearing witness to the Catholic faith means following Christ’s example. “Many times, people ignore my good deeds or intentions. Yet I must be strong, persevere in my vocation as a young Catholic, and not give up doing good things, even though people may disregard me.”