Philippines kicks off Catholic youth celebration
At least 15,000 young people gather for the start of the weeklong National Youth Day event in Cebu.
Hundreds of priests and young people attend the opening Mass of the weeklong National Youth Day celebrations
in the central Philippine province of Cebu on April 24. (Photo by Elmarc Lim)
At least 15,000 young Catholics attended the first day of this year's National Youth Day celebrations being held in the central Philippine province of Cebu.
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu welcomed the delegates on April 24 at a sports center by 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."
The prelate entered the sports center by riding a big motorbike onto the stage.
"God’s memory is a heart filled with tender compassion," said the archbishop.
"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 gathering of young people.
He said the weeklong National Youth Day celebration this year is part of 2021’s "grand celebration" of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
"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," said the Cebu prelate.
"We have a reason to be happy and thank the Lord because He has gifted us with His wonderful blessings," said Archbishop Palma.
Delegates to this year's National Youth Day celebrations in the central Philippine province of Cebu perform a dance number on April 24. (Photo by Elmarc Lim)
Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian of Bangued, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth at the Catholic bishops' conference, also extended his greetings to the young people.
"We hope that the youth will strengthen their faith in God so that they will be more active in serving others," said Bishop Jaucian.
He urged the delegates of this year's gathering to learn how to always stand for truth.
"Don't be afraid to come to Jesus and listen to his voice especially with the challenges we face today," he said. "Stand for truth. We need to stand for the truth of Christ and to live it," he said.
Authorities deployed at least 1,000 police and 500 soldiers to provide security at the sports center where the opening ceremonies were held.