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World Youth Day on Rarotonga

Monday 8 May 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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World Youth Day on Rarotonga
World Youth Day in the Pacific Region will be hosted in their respective diocese. Father Fred Kaina and the theme for this year - “Mary arose and went with haste”. MELINA ETCHES. 23050209

Catholics in the Pacific region will be hosting their own World Youth Day with each respective diocese leading their own programme from August 2.

One hundred and fifty or more people from Year 10 to the age of 35 from parishes across the Cook Islands are expected to attend World Youth Day on Rarotonga.

This year the Cook Islands will not be sending a group to the World Youth Day in Portugal because of the increase in airfare costs and the short time factor.

“We felt it was unfair to ask our youth to fundraise in such a short time,” said Father Fred Kaina.

He said Bishop Paul Donoghue along with other bishops in the Pacific region thought of hosting the World Youth Day in our respective diocese.

World Youth Day (WYD) is a meeting of young people from all over the world with the Pope. It is a pilgrimage, a youth festival, an expression of the universal Church and a strong moment of evangelisation of the youth world from the ages of 16 - 35 years old.

World Youth Day is a Catholic initiative for young people that was started by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
Basically it’s a call to young people around the world when young Catholic and all Christians of goodwill come together to pray, celebrate and worship together in a way that speaks to young people, said Father Fred.

Since 1985 World Youth Day has grown around the world, held every three years it has been hosted on every continent and the closest it has been to the Pacific region is back in 2008 in Sydney Australia.

Because, there’s really nowhere in the Pacific that can host the  millions, said Father Fred.

Since 2008 the Cook Islands Catholic Diocese started sending an official youth group to represent the diocese.

Starting this Sunday, weekly discussions will be held at the tapere level and there has been a lot of build-up in the parishes.

“We are hoping to reach out more to our young people, a lot of youth are excited and we’ve had good responses in terms of registering participants.”

The theme this year is “Mary arose and went with haste” which is to do with the gospel mission, explained Father Fred.

“We don’t take our time about it, its urgent, and like Mary she went with haste.”

The Cook Islands World Youth Day programme will reflect the activities, prayers and teaching sessions in Portugal.

“I’m excited for our young people,” said Father Fred.

“We’re always saying our young people are the future of the church.

“But Pope Francis surprised us with a statement, he said ‘no’. Young people you’re not the future of the church, you’re the present of the church, in other words don’t wait until you’re older to make a contribution, young people this is your time. And that’s a profound statement for our young people.”

Millions are expected to attend the World Youth Day in Portugal.

Over five million people attended the World Youth Day 1995 in Manila, Philippines, to see Pope John Paul II. It was the largest papal crowd in history, until being surpassed in January 2015 when an estimated six to seven million attended the Mass in Rizal Park, Manila, during the visit of Pope Francis.