By Ignatius Wunum – Vanimo
The Diocesan Youth Rally was held from January 4 to 10, 2015. The Rally began on 4th afternoon. The theme the youth chose for their rally was “With Jesus you are hero, without Jesus you are zero.” Bishop Cesare Bonivento PIME, Bishop of Vanimo, presided over the inaugural Holy Mass on 5th morning. Rev. Fr. Donatus Mohan HGN, the Diocesan Youth Chaplain and Parish Priest of Holy Cross Parish, Vanimo Town, along with Robin Pumeni, the Diocesan Youth President, and the diocesan core team which included the youth leaders from different parishes worked hard for the organization of the rally. The hard work and dedication of many Priests, Sisters, Seminarians, and volunteers made the Rally a great success for the 800 plus youth that gathered in St. John Vianney Diocesan Minor Seminary, Ilolo, both from inland and coastal deaneries of the diocese. At the end of the rally the youth expressed their immense joy for the unique experience of prayer, reflection, discussion and activities that they had for six full days.
Compared to the rallies of the previous years, the major difference in this rally was that the youth in their outreach programs prior to the rally brought awareness and inspiration to the Catholic Youth in many of the parishes. The Holy Mass and other spiritual activities of the day were led by different parishes. Some of the seminars and reflections were on the following topics: spiritual life, health promotion, leadership, sin and repentance, penance and forgiveness, family values, etc. There were group discussions and reporting on the social evils that prevailed in their communities and their roles in resolving those issues. Fr. Peter Artiken, Fr. Prabhat, Fr. Robert, Fr. Siby, Sr. Mar, Sr. Sija, Ms. Rose, Mr. Ignatius Wunum, Mrs. Patricia Wunum and Mr. Tony Inikre were the resource persons. Fr. Valencius, Fr. Nico, Fr. Petrus, Fr. Romel, Fr. Tomas, Fr. Sandro and Fr. Jose presided over the Holy Eucharist as well as other prayer sessions.
The rally invited the youth to consider their vocation to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. The youth were called to be sentinels of peace, to love and respect one another and to stand in solidarity to quell the evil habits and practices in the society wounded by violence and conflicts. The rally helped the youth to repent of their sins and to ask forgiveness from God and one another. The conditions of marriage were sounded out to the youth so that they would be cautious in their choices of life. They were reminded of their freedom as well as roles and responsibilities of married life. They were invited to abstain from premarital sexual relationship and to lead holy and authentic lives. Violence, corruption, bribery, etc. affecting the daily life of the youth were stressed. The seminar on Christian spirituality were uplifting. They focused also on social media, money and industrial promotions ruining souls and bodies. The visit of the Sydney Catholic Youth was inspirational and moral boosting through their part-time assistance for cooking and feeding the youth. One afternoon was set aside for march from Vanimo town to Ilolo and another afternoon the youth went around cleaning Vanimo town and surroundings. The evenings were usually occupied with praise and worship, movies, dramas or other entertainment programs.
The rally concluded with the concelebrated Holy Mass presided over by His Excellency Most Rev. Cesare Bonivento PIME. In his concluding homily the Bishop invited the youth to go and bear witness to Jesus. Many priests and sisters working in the diocese were present for the thanksgiving Holy Mass. The presence of many priests and sisters all through the days of the rally was inspirational for the youth. The youth thanked the Bishop and the Diocese of Vanimo for sponsoring this unforgettable event in their life. With thanksgiving to God and all others who helped, the rally concluded on a very positive and happy note. The youth were very grateful to the Catholic Mothers from various parishes who under the leadership of Sr. Mar prepared and served their food. One youth said “I am going home with Christ in my heart. I am very happy now.” Another youth said “I will go home and help the youth in my parish to give up their bad habits and lead good lives.”