@At Taoyuan airport, ready to lift off.

East Asia Delegation youth had a beautiful and unforgettable faith experience in Panama participating in the Claretian family Youth encounter and the WYD 2019. Three representatives (Perl, Marta and Bobin cmf) from Taiwan participated in this encounter. Prior to the WYD, the days with the Claretian family was an enriching experience. More than five hundred Claretian youth from the American Continent and three from Asia, gathered in Las Acacias Claret School to share the faith in Jesus and to bear the witnesses of the Gospel. The theme of Claretian youth Encounter was “One Family and One Heart (Una Sola Familia con un solo corazón). It was a moment of proud for the East Asia Delegation to represent the whole Asian Continent in the Claretian family gathering. Even though there was some problem with the language barrier (Spanish) the language of Love could communicate to us much more than we expected.

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The cultural varieties of American continent added more beauty and enthusiasm to the Claretian family gathering. The pilgrimage with the Claretian family youth was another beautiful experience of faith sharing. We started our pilgrimage from the University of Panama to the National Sanctuary of Immaculate Heart of Mary where we had the Eucharistic celebration in “Panamanian style”.

After the Claretian family youth encounter, we proceed to join the WYD 2019 event activities. On January 22, at Cinta Costera “Campo Santa Maria la Antigua” (Old St. Mary Field), the WYD was officially inaugurated by the Archbishop of Panama Jose Ulloa Mendieta by celebrating the Holy Eucharist and welcoming everyone to Panama. On 24th we all gathered to welcome the Holy Father in the same place (Campo Santa Maria la Antigua) and listened to his first address and prayed with him.

We were very lucky and we could watch the Holy Father from close distance. Even though it is not the first time we see him, the feelings and emotions never change at every encounter with him. During the sent-off mass held at the St. John Paul II Field (Metro Park) on January 27 Pope exhorted the half a million-youth telling “Keep walking, keep living the faith and sharing it, and do not forget that you are not the ‘Tomorrow’, nor the ‘Meantime’; You are the ‘Now’ of God.” He was encouraging the youth to dream for the here and now because in God there is only ‘Now’. At the end of the final mass, Kevin Cardinal Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Laity Office, announced that the venue of the next WYD will be in Lisbon, Portugal on the summer of 2022. 

By fr. Bobin Punnackapadavil