Embrace youth far from Church—bishop tells Pinoy pilgrims

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 4, 2013—As the last batch of Filipino World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims leave Brazil, a bishop reminded them that the work of serving and “embracing” the Filipino youth back home has just began.  

“Not before long, our enthusiasm will die down…But we have seen [Christ].  So do not be afraid. Serve, embrace people,” Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) Chairman-Bishop Joel Baylon told pilgrims during the last gathering of the ECY Philippines WYD delegation last July 30 at the Paroquia Divino Espírito Santo in Tijuca. 

Youth problems back home 

Speaking to about two hundred official Philippine delegates to the WYD, including “adopted” delegates from Singapore and Indonesia, Bishop Baylon said it is easy to just keep the memory of WYD Rio, but the reality of young “unchurched” Filipinos who grapple with drug addiction, family breakdowns and poverty remains.  

“We are called to embrace their humanity. Come down. Abraços!”, he added, using a Portuguese word that has already become familiar after three weeks in Brazil. 

He stressed, the true gauge of the WYD experience is what pilgrims do after. 

“We have various ways to proclaim the Gospel. What do we do to change the world? You and me. We start with ourselves,” Bishop Baylon, who also heads the Diocese of Legazpi, said. 

Field of faith 

In a mini-review of the main WYD message by Pope Francis, Bishop Baylon explained three main images associated with fields. 

Young people, according to him, are God’s “sowing field” in whom God plants seeds of transformation and holiness. 

Second, young people are also called to the training ground of faith. 

“If sports people need to be trained, so do we,” Bishop Bong, as he is also called, said, explaining that Christ calls all young people to be holy through discipline. 

Lastly, young people are like a field of building, which Christ Himself builds up. 

One of the last batches of Filipino delegates to return to the Philippines from Brazil include the sub-groups of Antipolo diocese, YouthPinoy and CFC-Youth for Christ. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]

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