I Encountered Christ
By Jay-Ar Ramirez
Jay-Ar is the Assistant Vocation Animator for the Columban Missionaries in Mindanao.
God is alive! His Spirit lives through the thousands of pilgrims who attended the National Youth Day in Cebu. It was a memorable experience, not just because of the chance to meet different young individuals but also for the little moments in which I felt and encountered God.
National Youth Day (NYD) is commemorated every 2 years by youths from different dioceses, parishes, organizations, congregations and ministries in the Philippines. This year, participating in the animations, finishing the exhausting pilgrim walk, attending leadership workshops and joining the festival night and service were some of the activities we thoroughly enjoyed. But more than the exhilarating experiences, NYD was an occasion that allowed me to see the real image of Christ.
We were assigned at St. Camillus De Lellis Retiring Home for the service revolution. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed by the elderly residents with huge smiles. It struck me how happy they seemed despite being away from their homes. In the way they yearned for care as we fed and shared with them, I saw Christ’s image.
We were all gathered at Abellana Sports Complex Cebu City for the NYD finale, and one of the unforgettable moments that happened was the Dialogue with the Bishops. I don’t know why I suddenly felt the impulse to raise my hand for a chance to talk with the Papal Nuncio and the bishops. Thousands of youth stared at me, shocked. There was silence and I proceeded to say, “As far as I know, we only have 12 years left to save the earth from ending and destruction. How can the Church start aiding the earth when thousands of plastics and styrofoam containers that contribute to the changing climate were used in this event alone? How can we be servants of the Lord, if the youth doesn’t acknowledge the gravity of this serious issue?”
I was the fourth and last delegate to raise a voice of concern on how we can care for the only common home we have, our planet Earth.
I was a pilgrim of the NYD for a reason. I believe that I have encountered Christ in the people that I met: from my delegation, to my foster family, to Team Dominic Savio and to all NYD pilgrims. The National Youth Day in Cebu is over, but the journey for young individuals like me, as servants of the Lord, has just started.
Mabuhay, mga bai!
Jay-Ar Ramirez during the National Youth Day in Cebu, 2019