WYD – Tripoli Style

By Veronica C. Ugates

The 'Kabayan Kids' presented the 'Visit of the Mag' with great gusto.

The author is Senior Nurse at Veba Oil Operations in Tripoli. She was one of twelve Bagong BayaniAwardees in 2005. These are given each year by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to outstanding Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). As she couldn’t be present at at Malacañang on 2 December, Father Arturo Cunca OFM accepted the award from President Arroyo on her behalf.

Since most of us were unable to go to Cologne due to financial constraints, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli OFM of Tripoli, Libya, decided that St Francis Parish, Dahra, should have its own Youth Day Celebration in the spirit that inspired WYD in Cologne, Germany.  The feast of the Holy Rosary, 7 October, was chosen as it fell on a Friday, the day of worship here in Tripoli.

Fr Alberto Sekito, a visiting Franciscan from the Philippines, organized the affair with the assistance of some parishioners. He called a meeting of the leaders of the different communities, including Dr Walid Abosh of the Arabic community, Mrs Salima Stanley of the Pakistani community, Aisha of the Indian community, and Samuel of the English-speaking African community. Tess Orodio of the Little Souls took care of the order for the Eucharistic celebrations, Raymond Gappi of the printing of the logo, Arman Ugates of the sound system, while everybody else was asked to bring food to share with others.

The week preceding Youth Day was spent in preparations that included catechesis, information on the history of the WYD, the significance of the logo, and the message of the Pope to the different communities in their own languages. The feast of St Francis on 4 October fell in the middle of this so that the Youth Day Celebration was as much a Franciscan activity as that of the youth.

October 7 dawned bright and clear and the excited participants whose ages ranged from the very young to the young-at-heart, arrived early especially the Philippine Community School youth with their energetic directress, Ms Aleth Ramirez. They started the ball rolling by singing ‘Welcome to the Family’ with beautiful dance interpretation. Fr Alberto introduced the different participating communities, followed by the enthronement of the Mission Cross, after which Fr Allan Arcebuche OFM, another Filipino, read the Gospel. When prayers were said in different languages I thought this must be how it was when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and they spoke in different tongues.

The Indian community, composed of nurses from Tripoli Medical Center, presented a dance of welcome and praise to the Lord followed by the pastoral message of Bishop Martinelli. The visiting Minister General of the Franciscans, Fr Giacomo Bini OFM, was the main celebrant at the Mass that followed, with the bishop and priests from different countries concelebrating.

The agape at noon was a great show of culinary expertise, the most exotic food prepared by the Korean community. The less adventurous, however, opted for the mundane sandwiches prepared by the Couples for Christ and El Shaddai groups. After lunch everyone was called to the afternoon’s activities, which started with a presentation by Filipino Fr Celso Larracas OFM, of the world youth situation. Then followed the cultural presentation of the different nationalities.

Watching from the wings of the stage while representatives of the different communities presented their country’s flag, I realized that truly in Libya we were a microcosm of the international gathering inCologne.

This feeling was heightened as the Koreans sang a traditional song, which their leader explained, was dedicated to the old, the youth and the children. A song by the Pakistanis was followed by a lively one from the Sudanese youth, dressed in very colorful costumes, both highly appreciated.

The presentation in mime of the ‘Wedding in Cana’ by the Arabic youth was easily understood and earned warm applause. The Gargaresh community children interpreted ‘The Light of the World,’ the theme song of WYD 2002 in Toronto, Canada, in their own unique way. The Central Passoti ‘Kabayan Kids’ presented the ‘Visit of the Magi’ with great gusto. Though it was a bit chaotic, everybody applauded them for their effort and enthusiasm.

In closing, Fr Daniel Faruggia, Vicar General, bestowed a final blessing. Then the Philippine Community School youth rendered the song, ‘Come and See,’ with such a heartwarming interpretation that I, privileged as master of ceremonies to watch at close quarters, felt an inexpressible and overwhelming feeling similar to what Pope John Paul II must have felt during the first WYD gathering at the Vatican in 1984 when he asked, ‘Who said that the youth cannot be counted on?’ I’ll say further that if we have the youth then we need not fear for the future, for the Church will go from strength to strength through tribulations in the years to come. I believe it worth mentioning that some Muslim classmates of the group joined in the singing.

As a postscript, may I add that the Arabic youth have followed through and now have a weekly youth meeting. Hopefully the other communities will follow suit.

You may email the author at vcugates@yahoo.com