By Robin Gomes
For the first time, Indonesia’s young Catholics held the Indonesian Youth Day online because of the Covid-19 restrictions. “Rooted, blooming and bearing fruit” was the theme of the August 28 to 30 Virtual Youth Day (VYD) that was streamed live on YouTube. Organizers said over 5,000 youth from all over the vast archipelago participated in the event.
Bishop Pius Riana Prapdi of Ketapang, chairman of the Commission for Youth of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI), kicked off the 2-day event on Friday with a concelebrated Mass in the Cathedral of Ketapang, in West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.
Rooted, blooming, bearing fruit in Christ
“God always finds ways to love young people. Young people’s imagination and energy to be creative never end, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bishop Prapdi said in his homily. He commended their spirit to serve the Church and the nation and the desire to share their joy and inspiration with others.
Commenting on the theme (Colossians 2:7), he said that young people were called to make life choices wisely by being rooted, blooming and bearing fruit in Christ.
Reaching out via social media
“To be rooted in Christ means that our life is sourced from Christ. To bloom in Christ means that we recognize our growth potential and challenges. To bear fruit in Christ means that we have grateful hearts which are capable of loving others,” he said.
Despite the challenges regarding jobs, studies, communities and health conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Bishop Prapdi encouraged the young people to continue being “rooted in Christ, to grow in faith and to bear fruit through services by using social media platforms”.
VYD’s second day programme included traditional songs, dances and sharing sessions.
The idea of a Virtual Youth Day was decided in late July because of the Covid-19 restrictions, Father Antonius Haryanto, executive secretary of the Commission for Youth, told UCA News.
In the lead-up to the August VYD, he said they held live-streamed talk shows, in which priests, psychologists and young people developed the theme of the event.
“I do hope that young people can become the main actors. Even though their activities are very limited amid the Covid-19 pandemic, they still can become visionary leaders who help the society or make breakthroughs possible,” Father Haryanto said.
Ronald Taemisa, a participant from the Archdiocese of Kupang, regarded the first Virtual Youth Day as “a milestone.” “We live in a modern world. We can positively use social media platforms to show the world that young people in Indonesia can do something useful for others,” he told UCA News.
Indonesia’s Covid-19 burden
Indonesia is currently grappling with one of the worst surges in Covid-19 cases in South-east Asia. The 2,858 new infections reported on Sunday were below the previous day’s record of 3,308 but above the past month’s daily average. Its total number of cases rose to 172,053, with 7,343 deaths.
The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) reported on Monday that 100 doctors have died so far from COVID-19.