By Joachim Teigen
The National Youth Convention 2018 solemnly opened on 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Vunapope, Rabaul. During his homily, Archbishop Francisco Panfilo SDB of Rabaul entrusted “the young people to Mary of Nazareth”, as he encouraged them to “respond fully like Mary with a generous, ‘Here, I am’”.
“Called to the fullness of life and love” was the theme they were encouraged to respond fully to, as the 260 young people representing the different dioceses of Papua New Guinea embarked on days of prayer, catechesis and growth in faith. The convention was arranged by the Episcopal Conference, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Rabaul, (as part of the preparation for next year’s World Youth Days).
Meetings and catechesis on the theme of "celebrating life"
Among the highlights of the convention was catechesis on the topic of “celebrating life”, where the young men and women were called to a deeper understanding of the Christian vocation to life and love through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Eucharist and preparation for marriage.
As part of the preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony, the young people present for the sessions were challenged to take on a pledge to “stay pure” until marriage.
Pilgrimage to Rakunai
The program also included a pilgrimage to the important sites surrounding the life of Bl. Peter ToRot, a Papuan martyr known for his catechetical work during the Japanese occupation of World War II, and for his devotion to married life in the face of the legalisation of polygamy by the Japanese, the latter resulting in his martyrdom.
Works of Mercy
Encouraged by the opening words of the convention by Fr. Ambrose Pereira SDB, CBC Secretary for the Social Communication and Youth Office, to “take to heart what has been shared, put it into your lives and practice it”, they visited the patients of St. Mary’s Hospital, Vunapope, where they shared the Word of God with the residents and prayed the rosary on their knees.
One lady expressed her appreciation at the visit saying “God’s word is good and I am happy”.