After a year break due to Covid-19, the Catholic Church in Bangladesh celebrated the 37th National Youth Day (NYD), March 24-27.
The event took place at Cathedral Parish, Kosba in Dinajpur diocese, northern Bangladesh.
Saint Pope John Paul II was a young lover and visionary. In love with the youth, he started World Youth Day and its continuation is being celebrated in every country and diocese around the world.
Due to the epidemic last year, it was not possible to celebrate NYD in the South Asian country.
As the situation of Covid-19 improved, the church marked the NYD with God’s grace for the youth of Bangladesh.
The theme of this NYD was “Mary Arose and went with Haste” (Luke 1:39).
More than 400 youth from the eight dioceses of Bangladesh participated in the program.
Archbishop Lawrence Subrato Howlader of Chittagong, chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Youth, Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi, Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur, executive secretary of Bangladesh Youth Commission, and National Youth Coordinator Father Bikash James Rebeiro, and a large number of other religious brothers and nuns attended the events.
The handing over and installation of the Cross on the occasion of youth day was a spiritual ceremony.
The crux of the matter was that the young men at the foot of Jesus' cross could bear all their pains and sufferings.
In his inaugural address, Bishop Tudu of Dinajpur, referring from the Bible to the life of a young man who wasted everything said, “We, the youth, are often misled like a prodigal son. But God the Father and our biological father are always ready to accept us.”
Speaking on the occasion, Archbishop Howlader said, “We have taken a good initiative to celebrate National Youth Day this year with faith and confidence in God's plan, taking the Corona epidemic as a challenge.”
"The theme for this year's NYD is "Spiritual preparation for the next year World Youth Day," said the Archbishop.
Father Rebeiro, executive secretary, and National Youth Coordinator outlined the three goals of the NYD.
First, the Christian youth of Bangladesh should be enlightened through intercultural and respect each other as brothers and sisters of Christ.
Second, young men and women can come to Christ and bear witness to Him by preaching the gospel.
Third, In the light of the experience with Christ, whose teaching of human service can be carried out to the church and family.
These three goals are deeply rooted in the theme of this year's NYD and reflect the courageous decision of Mother Mary," said Father Rebeiro.
Bishop Rozario spoke on the theme of NYD and explained with examples how to live the theme in one’s life.
Several speakers addressed many aspects of the theme. Besides, Classes on different topics were given including youth awakening stories, Synod (Communion, Participation, and Mission), and Pope Francis’s documents on 'Laudato si' (Praise be to you, My Lord) and 'Fratelli Tutti’ (all brothers and sisters).
During a prayer service, participants prayed that the war between Russia and Ukraine may end soon.
Andrew Topno, a Mundari tribal youth from Sylhet diocese, said, "I am happy to participate in this NYD because there are many youths like me who attended it.”
There are many from my diocese who could not take part in it despite their desire. “I promise to enlighten them with the lessons I have learned from here,” he added.
Ruchi Richil, an indigenous Mandi girl from the Mymensingh diocese, said, "I feel lucky to have participated in this youth event. It is a great platform to get acquainted and interact with the Christian youth from all over Bangladesh."
The center of all this is Jesus. Due to this NYD, the knowledge and respect for each other's culture have been awakened among all participants, she added.
“I think this youth day celebration will broaden the mindset of many more young people like me," said Richil.
Catholic youth from all the dioceses of the country promised to build their lives based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
Oftentimes, many young men and women are scattered, misguided, and lack the right direction in life. They need encouragement and support from all, Richil stressed.
Participants pledged to be enlightened by the teachings of this NYD and to shine the light of Christ in their respective fields of work.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.