July 16, 2024

It was through Bishop Karol Wojtyla popularly known as Pope John Paul II and now Saint John Paul II who ignited the activities for the youth.
On Jan. 10 to 15, 1995, the Philippines hosted the World Youth Day with overwhelming delegates all over the world and recorded as the biggest crowd ever in the history of World Youth Day.
Pope John Paul II exhorted the more than five million youths: “You, young people, are especially called to become missionaries of this New Evangelization, by daily witnessing to the Word that saves. You personally experience the anxieties of the present historical period, fraught with hope and doubt, in which it can at times be easy to lose the way that leads to the encounter with Christ. The Church entrusts to young people the task of proclaiming to the world the joy which springs from having met Christ. Dear friends, allow yourselves to be drawn to Christ, accept his invitation to follow him. Go and preach the Good News that redeems; do it with happiness in your hearts and become communicators of hope in a world which is often tempted to despair, communicators of faith in a society which at times seems resigned to disbelief, communicators of love, in daily events that are often marked by a mentality of the most unbridled selfishness.”
Significantly, Pope John Paul II had been to many places all over the world for the youth like in 1979 in the U.S.A. where he profoundly encouraged the youth. He won the hearts of the young people.
It was in Rome, Italy where the first official World Youth Day started in 1986. The cascading of the World Youth Day to the different dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church has been into creativities and initiatives like youth camps and youth music jams.
In the Cordillera churches, if my memory serves me well, the Montañosa Youth Ministry or MYM was already doing great in the late 80s.
I recall the team of Rev. Fr. Rolly Astudillo, Bro. Gilbert Castañeda, and Irene Gueret who were then active in gathering and training the youth.
There was a Montañosa Youth Camp held in Lepanto, Mankayan, Benguet in 1989 where many Bontoc youth attended and seemingly, the nosiest and most active group. The MYM was composed of Kalinga Apayao, Mountain Province, Benguet, and Ifugao to spell the area of responsibility.
In 1991, Rev. Fr. Cornelio Wigwigan held series of youth gatherings at Sta. Rita Church. Rev. Fr. Sammie Maximo was the assistant parish priest who supported the youth activities.
In 1995, Rev. Fr. John Habawel initiated the first Bontoc District Youth Camp in Sabangan, Mountain Province. One of the beautiful features of the 1995 youth camp was the songwriting competition for the youth theme song.
Fortunately, our Bontoc entry won. It was performed by the Bontoc Youth Delegation conducted by Jonel Fagsao. This youth activity was instrumental for my heart to write songs and write articles. The winning song was entitled “Youth of Christ.”
It was in the early 2000 that the Bontoc-Lagawe flourished through the initiatives, creativities of youth directors, staff and youth leaders from the different mission stations and it was in the late 90’s that Vicariate Youth Camp (VYC) was coined.
The VYC became the pillar of the youth ministry. Youth camps were conducted every year and youth leaders’ formations were supported and sustained.
If my memory will not fail me, there were mission stations that hosted Vicariate Youth Camps namely; Kayan, Tadian; Natonin, Sadanga, Sagada, Lamut, Lagawe, Alfonso Lista, and Barlig.
I also remember the theme songs I wrote for the VYC entitled “Youth Moving Forward” in Natonin and now recently, “Pilgrims of Hope” in Lamut, Ifugao.
I congratulate Rev. Fr. Michael Tokoyen for his leadership. Despite his health condition, he gives his heart to the youth and their needed formation.
Equally, I congratulate Bro. Melchor Sowaken and Bro. Norton Decoy who are directly leading the Vicariate Youth Ministry.
The just concluded VYC was hosted by Lamut Parish under Rev. Fr. Harry Gawongna, the parish priest his assistants, Rev. Fr. Raven Tuguinay, Rev. Fr. Den Idduba, and Rev. Fr. Ronilo Pagao. They deserve to be congratulated.
Reach me at [email protected].