Asian Youth Day in Solmoe Holy Ground
On August 15, the Pope visited Solmoe Holy Ground, where the 6th Asian Youth Day (AYD) and the 3rd Korean Youth Day (KYD) were held. He encouraged the youth to “Spread the gospel with pleasure and true heart.”
The Catholics from Daejeon Dioceses and youth catechumen from all different regions in the country welcomed the Pope on his way to Solmoe Holy Ground. Riding the open car, he entered with walking pace. He shook hands with the faithful and blessed children in response to the acclamation from the crowd.
The Pope first visited and prayed at the birthplace of Saint Kim-Taegon Andrew; the first Korean priest. He signed the guestbook and consecrated rosaries.
After that, the Pope visited the “Meeting Tent,” in which 6,000 participants from AYD and KYD were gathered, where the “Meeting with the Asian Youth” was held. The Pope treated the young as his friends, calling them “my beloved youth.” The Pope and the youth representatives from Korea, Hong Kong, and Cambodia had conversation about concerns and hardships of the youth in this era.
Si Mai from Cambodia said, “I’m not sure whether I should choose a life of a religious vocation or study further to help others”. In response to Mai’s concern, the Pope said, “We all respect the Lord, and we exist for the sake of others. Whether you choose the path of a vocational life or a laity, it is important that our lives are meant for others.” The Pope told the youth to repeatedly ask themselves this question, “Lord, what do You want in my life?”The Pope repeated this words three times and the youth also repeated it.
Pang, Jin-woo(John, 33) from Hong Kong, worried that Catholic faith is disappearing in Hong Kong, in which various ethnicities and cultures coexist. He also shared his concerns about the role of the youth in developing Catholic Church in mainland China.
Park Ji-sun(Marina, 30), who asked the Pope as a Korean representative, said, “I’m anxious about my decision that is different from other peers because all the other youth try to earn more money and live a busy life.” She asked the Pope, “How can a happy life be possible for Korean youth, who are living in an extreme capitalist society.” The Pope answered, “Things, which I consider pleasure and happiness, disappear like they are flying to the sky, but only the happiness of love stays.”The Pope said, “The way of love is to love neighbors, brothers and sisters, and specially, people who need help.”
On Park’s question about the unification of North and South Korea, the Pope answered that it is a hopeful stepping stone that the South and North Koreans are using the same language.
Then, He prayed for the peace in North and South Korea for about 30 second in silence with over 6,000 young people.
The Pope had luncheon with students of Daejeon Catholic University before his visit to the Solmoe Holy Ground. The youth, who attended the luncheon with the Pope were representatives from 17 different Asian countries and singer BoA, the Honorary Ambassador of AYD. The Pope enjoyed the time with the youth by sharing gifts, taking photographs, singing the title song of AYD, and the more. Having enjoyed the meal, which was a mix of Korean and Western cuisines, the young people did not hesitate to say that the luncheon with the Pope was the most honorable and meaningful event in their lives.
The pope was full of energy with the young people, expressing his excitement with gestures and facial expressions. His speech, “Message for the Youth,” was more like a conversation with the young rather than a presentation. The Pope did give immediate answers to the young people’s questions.
“I worried a lot whether the program with the youth will be held because the Pope seemed very tired and weak after the luncheon, and he was speaking in a small voice. However, when the Pope met young people, he was energetic,” said Bishop You Heung-Sik.
The young people greeted Papa with much excitement. They responded to the Pope by shouting “Viva Papa” and giving loud cheers. They also sang a song, celebrating the visit of the pope. The young people also expressed their admiration towards the Pope by screening messages such as, “Viva Papa,” “Papa Tiamo,” and “Papa Francisco,” “Always be well!” and the more, with their smart phones and tablets.