(Jogjakarta, Indonesia) On the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer, titular patron of the congregation, the 1st Asia-Oceania Redemptorist Youth Ministers meeting formally started. The meeting held in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, right after the 2nd Indonesian Redemptorist Youth Gathering, from 21st to 25th July, 2019.
With the theme “Sharing a Million Dreams for Tomorrow, Encountering the Youth of Today,” this maiden gathering of Redemptorist Youth Ministers seeks to establish a collaborative and dynamic youth mission in the Conference of Asia-Oceania.
The Gathering of the Redemptorists and youth ministers of ASIOC who are working with the youth, a total of 58 participants from 10 Redemptorist units — Malaysia & Singapore, Cebu [Philippines], Manila [Philippines], Indonesia, Majella [India], Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Japan & Oceania — spent days sharing experiences, having fun and praying together as they express their hopes and weave their dreams in the area of youth ministry.
The gathering was graced with the presence of Fr. Jovencio Ma, CSsR, the Conference Coordinator, Fr. Sebastian Ani Datu, CSsR, General Consultor and Fr. Pawel Drobot, CSsR, from the General Secretariat on Dialogue and Proclamation and who is also in charge of Redemptorist Youth and Vocation Ministry. Fr. Pawel facilitated the day of recollection.
Prior to the official opening of the gathering, the youth ministers immersed themselves into the culture of youth ministry in Indonesia during a day of integration with the participants of the 2nd Indonesian Redemptorist Youth Gathering (IRYG).
The official opening of the ASIOC Redemptorist Youth Ministers Gathering, coincided with the closing of the 2nd IRYG and Fr. Yoakim Rambaho Ndelo, CSsR, Provincial Superior of Indonesia, presided over the Eucharistic celebration with Fr. Sebastian as the homilist. In his homily, Fr. Sebastian emphasized how the experiences of the youth are significant in their growth as a person and as a catholic, and as youth ministers our task is to journey with them as they mature in faith and in life.
Echoing the richness of Christus Vivit, Fr. Pawel highlighted the value of the inseparable and complementing youth and vocation ministry. In as much as we would like to journey with the youth, we must never undermine and set aside the youth’s relationship with Christ and their awareness on God’s call for them to a life of love and service. And like Mary’s fiat as the beginning of God’s plan for her, we must also continue to find our own fiat in whatever life’s choices we embrace.
A night of fun, friendship and laughter summed up the day of recollection through water games-inspired opening night. Overcoming shyness and regardless of cultural and age differences, everyone pitched in as we danced and sang and got wet and dirty.
On the third day of the meeting, every unit was able to present and share to the group their experiences and conduct of youth ministry. Through videos and personal testimonies, a deeper awareness that even if there are no initial knowledge of the work of other units, ASIOC are already doing something significant in the area of youth ministry. What is lacking, however, are venues for sharing and collaboration. The day’s session led the group to a realization that there is a rich opportunity for sharing and collaboration in the mission with the youth in the conference.
The day that followed was a more intense and hope-filled discussion on the future of Redemptorist Youth Ministry in Asia Oceania. Four significant concerns were taken up passionately in the discussion, namely:
- Establishing a common identity,
- Creating venues for common formation for youth ministers, both for professed and youth missioners,
- Exploring collaborations and sharing of resources in the mission with the youth, and
- Holding a regular common gatherings both for youth and youth ministers.
Opening horizons for possible collaborations and boldly dreaming for future youth endeavors, everyone was excited as the plan to hold the first ever ASIOC Redemptorist Youth Gathering in 2020 was officially endorsed by the body. A preparatory committee was formed to take the lead and further discuss the details of this gathering.
The last day of the meeting was an organized tour, a day to explore once again the unique history and culture of Jogjakarta. Specifically, we were able to pray in Sendang Sono, the place of the first Catholics in the area and wander in amazement in Borobudur Temple, a 9th century Mahayana Buddhist temple. In between these visits, we are able to squeeze in time for shopping souvenirs and gifts for our return to our respective home units.
But more than these, the real gifts we shall be bringing home with us is the beautiful experience of friendship and fun and the hope-filled One RYM future we desire to make vibrant and relevant for the youth in Asia Oceania and more importantly, for God’s mission of preaching God’s plentiful redemption.
The gathering, as a whole, was indeed a joyful success and a meaningful encounter as we continue to respond to the call of our time to be in solidarity with the wounded world especially with the youth. The five-day event may have been quick but the encounters, inspirations and dreams it has awaken in us for the present and the future of youth ministry in ASIOC is surely a beautiful testament of how God can bless even a million dreams and make them come true if we are resolved to embrace his invitation to be witnesses of the Redeemer, doing our best for God’s dream for the youth to truly happen.
Beyond words, with heart’s full of gratitude and hope, let us continue to weave dreams for the youth ministry in our conference and for the congregation and like the road to Emmaus, may we continue to encounter Jesus through the faces of the young.
Rico John Bilangel, C.Ss.R.
Terence Wee, C.Ss.R.