800 gather for Penang Youth rally

About 800 Catholic youth from the Northern states of Malaysia, converged in Penang island and mainland to rejoice in the Lord for 4 days.

PDYD 2 logo on a big banner for participants’ signatures

They were participants for the second Penang Diocesan Youth Day (PDYD 2), held in various churches in Penang island and the Church of St Anne, in the mainland, from 16 to 19 Nov 2012. The theme for PDYD 2 was ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’

The PDYD 2 was organized by the Penang Diocese’s youth office, known as Penang Diocesan Youth Network (PDYN). It was an event modeled after the World Youth Day (WYD), which was started by the late Pope John Paul II.

Participants, who came from all the states in the North, started streaming in to the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Penang on 16 Nov, for the registration and opening/launching.

On registration, they received a goody bag and T-shirts. While waiting for the opening Mass and launching, they were treated to music performance.

The opening Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Penang, Bishop Sebastian Francis, together with 9 priests.

During the entrance procession, the youth carry colourful ‘bunga mangga’, the states flags, the PDYD icon (a picture of  Mary, Mother of God) and the PDYD cross, which had been dismantled in 5 pieces.

As they approached the altar, they put together the cross, and the icon was placed in front of the cross.

The PDYD cross and icon.

In the Bishop’s homily during Mass, he hope that the youth for the next 3 days, will bear in mind that they are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church. He informed the youth that Jesus only had one invitation for them – to enter the door of faith.

The launching of PDYD 2 was held immediately after Mass, with the Bishop releasing balloons.

Bishop Sebastian getting ready to launch PDYD 2. On his right is Fr Dominic Santhiyagu, the Director of PDYN and on his left is Msgr. Bernard Paul, the parish priest of the Cathedral.

There was a Praise & Worship session after the launching and dinner, followed by briefing for participants.

Participants in a Praise & Worship session after the launching.

The participants were divided into 4 language groups – English, Mandarin, Tamil, Bahasa and had their sessions at 4 different churches. Some participants stayed at the church (classrooms, meeting rooms), while some stayed with their foster parents.

On 17 Nov, the various language groups had their own programs. Generally they started with Praise & Worship, Catechesis and talks on various topics.

Youths from the Tamil speaking group.

Some of the topics include a talk on reaching out to the needy, deepening relationship with God and the favourite among the youth, about emerging trends from media, focusing on facebook and friends.

After the talk, the participants went on a tour to shopping complexes in the city and pilgrimage to churches in the city.

Volunteers helping to serve lunch.

In the evening, while the Mandarin group hold a spiritually ‘Marian Fest’ (rosary prayers and procession, Eucharistic adoration), the other 3 language groups held cultural night (Bahasa), Talent Night (English) and Gospel Concert (Tamil).

The following day, on 18 Nov, after the Catechist talk in the various language locations, all of them then met at Church of the Assumption (which is part of City Parish), to get ready for a 2 km pilgrimage walk to the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Butterworth. (NBVM).

Getting ready for the walk - beginning from the Assumption Church.

From the Assumption Church in Lebuh Farquhar, they walked to the ferry terminal, boarded the ferry, then from the Butterworth ferry terminal, they walked to the NBVM Church in Jalan New Ferry.

Under the hot sun, the youth walked, with umbrella and caps, without complain, as some sing hymns as they walk.

In high spirit during the walk, even under the scorching sun.

Roland, one of the youth, later said that the pilgrimage walk was kind of like an evengelisation for them, since some passers-by were surprise to see them and some asked who were they and what they were doing.

When the youth reached the NBVM Church, the parish priest, Fr Victor Louis, was there to meet them.  A presentation on the autobiography of St. Jacques Honore Chastan,  who is the PDYD 2 patron saint was shown to them before they were treated to some badly needed  refreshment (especially cold drinks), after the long walk they had!

They then continue their journey in chartered buses to Church of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam.

The youth, on reaching the Church of St Anne.

At the Church of St Anne, there were booth set up to promote their ministries to the youth. The main one was the Vocation Booth with many leaflets and interesting colourful bookmarks that help to attract the youth to be interested in the religious vocation.

The youth were treated to a concert by a fantastic band – the Prodigal Apostles Band, during the evening. They enjoyed themselves very much with all the ‘power-packed’ songs and music belted out. All the youth could be seen dancing or waving hands throughout the concert.

The Prodigals Apostles Band
‘Rocking’ to the music from the band!

After letting their hair down during the concert, it was time for quiet spiritual reflection, as the church door was opened for silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Individual confessions was available.

The youth camped on the sprawling field of the Church of St Anne during the night, and the next morning, they were still refreshed for the closing ceremony.

Monday, 19 Nov. sees PDYD 2 coming to a close. A closing Mass was held to commemorate the closing. The Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Marek Zalewski, who is the Charge d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature of Kuala Lumpur. Bishop Sebastian Francis and 16 priests con-celebrated the Mass.

Msgr Marek on far right.

In Msgr Malek’s homily, he said that he was very happy to see so many youth from the various states gathered together to celebrate Jesus. He urged the youth to build their lives on Jesus, and gave 5 ways to celebrate faith.

Part of the youth in the closing Mass.

“Participate in the Mass always as your personal encounter with Jesus Christ is in theMass.The Mass is also a public experiences of our faith, so try to invite friends to attend Mass with you.” He said. “Thirdly, don’t forget the Sacrament of Reconciliation – it is important for our faith. Read the bible a lot, including stories of saints. Saints are people like you, who had discovered their faith. Finally, as we know, faith without action, is dead – so help those in need and get involved in your parish lives and community.”

At the end of the Mass,  there were thank you speeches by three persons. They were Martin Wong, PDYD 2 organising committee coordinator, Fr. Dominic Santhiyagu, the Director of PDYN and Bishop Sebastian.

Martin said that PDYD 2 not only serve to energise the youth but it is a reminder to all that young people is a part of the Church and a force to be reckon with.

Fr Dominic talked on the importance of prayers. He said that when people gather together to pray for something, things will happen and will go right. He said that he experienced this personally throughout the 1 ½ years of planning for PDYD 2.

Bishop Sebastian touched on the leaflet about gaining plenary indulgences during the Year of Faith, which was just given out to everyone. He urged the youth to do something through the indulgences, to ‘take away the pains and sufferings’.

Bishop Sebastian then announced the next PDYD – PDYD 3, will be held in Perak in 2015. There was a symbolic handing over, when the PDYD icon was handed over to Fr Michael Dass, a priest from Perak.

PDYD 2 came to a joyous end when Mass ended, where everybody sang loud and cheerfully the theme song ‘Come, people of the Risen King’

After taking lunch, the young participants then depart for home. Many of them felt they had a wonderful time  and enriching experience, and they look forward to PDYD 3.

Note:  Photos taken by various participants.

Related article:  Youth calls to be agents of change

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