Indonesia: AYG in Conference of Asia Oceania at Sumba from 3rd to 6th July 2024

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The Alphonsian Youth Gathering (AYG) of the Conference of Asia Oceania began with great enthusiasm and splendour on Wednesday the 3rd of July 2024 on the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Youth, Youth Leaders and Confreres from all the Units of the Conference began arriving from the 30th of June. The first few days they were housed in different parishes of the Province of Indonesia in Sumba sharing the life and struggles of the people. “This was a moving experience, one we will never forget,” said one of the young people. “I was moved to tears by the generosity, warmth, hospitality of the family I stayed with, their simplicity and poverty touched my heart but yet they gave so much of themselves to see to our comfort and safety,” shared one of the youth leaders.

On the opening day, the youth from each of the Units gathered together in the main hall of the Redemptorist parish at St. Alphonsus College in Weetebula. The youth were present with their leaders and Redemptorist confreres from Oceania, South Korea, Japan, Philippines (Manila and Cebu), Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India (Bangalore, Liguori, and Majella), and the host unit of Indonesia.

After a brief word of welcome from Fr Jack Umbu Warata, C.SS.R, the Provincial of Indonesia, the Alphonsian Youth Gathering was flagged off by Fr Rogerio Gomes, C.SS.R, Superior General accompanied by Fr Joseph Ivel Mendanha and Fr Paul Vinh (General Consultors from Asia Oceania) and Fr Yoakim Ndelo, C.SS.R. (Conference Coordinator). The Youth walked in their respective Units for a procession accompanied by a band and local dancers from Weetebula to the Cultural Centre, a procession that took 2 hours beginning at 2.30 pm and ending at 4.30 pm. The Cultural Centre, owned and run by the Redemptorists of the Province of Indonesia is the main venue for the AYG (Alphonsian Youth Gathering) 2024.

Fr Yoakim Ndelo, C.SS.R, presided at the opening mass with Frs Rogerio Gomes, Ivel and Paul, and over 30 priests from different Units including the host unit. The youth choir from the SVD Parish in Weetebula sang for the liturgy. Fr Yoakim (Kimi) spoke about the importance of St Thomas being a missionary of hope and how his experience with the Risen Lord transformed his life, this is a model for young people today to encounter the Lord for a transformation of life into mission.

The Theme of the AYG 2024 is “One Encounter, One Family, One Mission.” A sumptuous dinner followed the Eucharist catered for by a team of lay collaborators. After diner, there was a Cultural evening with dances, a skit and a monologue showcasing the culture of the Island of Sumba and the history of Christianity on the Island. Fr Kimi addressed the gathering inviting the young people to break down walls and barriers and build bridges. The Local Government authority then gave an address welcoming the youth to Sumba and assured full cooperation for the event from the local government authority. Fr Rogerio Gomes, Superior General then addressed the gathering saying how happy he was to be present for the AYG and urged the young people to open doors, the doors of their hearts to encounter the Redeemer in one another and from here with all those in need of the Redeemer and his hope in their lives. The first evening ended with a cultural dance from the Island of Flores with all dancing and celebrating together. The night ended with prayer as the participants returned to their places of residence. Truly a wonderful beginning for the Alphonsian Youth Gathering, Conference of Asia Oceania, 2024.

Fr Willy Palla, C.SS.R and his team of dedicated youth leaders have been organising this event for a year and a half and made sure that the event began on a wonderful note. Truly, a joyful time of celebration of faith. We look forward to the days ahead…

Fr. Joseph Ivel Mendanha, C.Ss.R.
General Consultor