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Timor Leste hosts Claretian youth assembly

HONG KONG (SE): Young people from Asian countries served by Claretian Missionaries have gathered in Timor-Leste with the theme for a week-long assembly to renew their commitment as Christ’s witnesses. The Asia East Youth Gathering (AEYG) took place from August 5 to 11 in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste,  with the theme “The solidarity of Christ impels us: go, sell, share and follow.”
The gathering is held every two years and is the third such event since the first was held in the Philippines in 2015. As many as 125 young delegates from China, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia and Timor-Leste participated in the event.
Bishop Virgílio do Carmo da Silva of Dili welcomed the young people on August 6, telling them to overcome the challenges of globalisation and a society where young millennials are accused of “having no empathy and being selfish.” 
“Solidarity with Christ means that Christians must share and give their lives to others in need of help,” he said. He hoped that young people from Timor-Leste can learn from the gathering so they can transform communities where they live.
Claretian Father Emanuel Talok, the event coordinator said that “We are here united as Asians … to establish the true character of Catholic youths, as the bearers of the Christian message and witnesses to the joy of the Gospel.” 
He said that the theme of Solidarity follows up Pope Francis’ message during World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, in which he invited young people to be in solidarity with current realities and to become icons of hope.
For many delegates this was a first time to participate in a youth gathering. Andrew Yousung Seo from South Korea said the AEYG provided an unforgettable encounter. “While searching for my vocation, I happened to know about the AEYG from my parish sister. She recommended me to participate in the event and also other people around me encouraged me to do it. It was the first time for me to participate in a global event, and this made me feel afraid and anxious. However, as everyone took care of and encouraged one another, it gave me an unforgettable experience.”
“I’ve never had before such a moment that I felt childlike, joyful and comfortable like this. I’m really grateful to God, and all the people who made this possible,” he added. 
Veronique Crystal Rivera, one of the delegates from Hong Kong was pleasantly surprised to find the delegates from other regions very friedly, open and highly talented. “I got to spend time with a lot of  friends from different countries and bond over weird common things that I wouldn’t expect others to have in common!” she said. 
She said she was impressed by the people in Timor Leste, who were “so optimistically open, friendly and very talented.” “They sang lots of songs I really couldn’t understand, but were great and did a lot of traditional dancing. Getting to see and experience how different people have their ways of living and entertainments were very experiential,” she said. 
The next edition of AEYG 2021 will be held in Ormoc City, Philippines.

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