This year, several youth groups decided to organize the first ever local World Youth Day (WYD) celebration in Manila, Philippines on July 27-28 to recognize this year’s WYD in Rio de Janeiro. Somewhat patterned after WYD programs, this event brought together thousands of young people from different parts of the country to be able to participate in activities that would allow them to meet new people, grow in cultural formation, and, most especially, celebrate their faith.
The World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific (WYAAP) was invited to participate as part of the “Discipleship Fair” and “Youth Festivals” to be able to share WYA’s mission with the local WYD delegates.
I found it quite fortunate for the WYAAP team that after the weekend celebration, we spent Monday, July 29 on an inter-faith (iFaith) activity. For this quarter’s iFaith, we visited a Roman Catholic church in Manila for its historical and architectural significance, and a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Being all Roman Catholic, the visit to the Mormon temple was a different experience for us, also because it was our first time inside their premises. They gave us a lot of background about their beliefs and activities, and while weren’t actually allowed to go inside the temple, they toured us around some of their facilities.
“We share many of your beliefs,” one of the sisters (men are called “Elders” and women “Sisters”) told us. They even shared their good working relations with the Catholic Church.
From the local WYD activities, I reaffirmed my trust in my faith. I knew that the Church remains (and will remain) alive and strong despite the many controversies it is facing. From the Latter Day Saints, I saw great courage in proclaiming a belief despite many unbelievers.
In both instances I saw a different kind of joy. It was a joy that arose from love. For the case of religion, it is a love for the Supreme Being, a God, Jesus Christ, and seeing our peers as His creatures. However, for those who are skeptical, we are still able to find and give love in the acceptance that all of us have worth and must therefore be respected.
Young people, especially, have such a huge role to play in the propagation of this love. As a generation of curious, vibrant and active minds, we have more power than we can imagine if we learned to work together.
As Pope Francis said during his closing mass for WYD 2013, “When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had.”
If we are working for and towards the truth, what have we got to fear?
By Ma. Zarina A. San Jose, a WYA intern from the Philippines