Festival in honor of Virgin Mary gathers hundreds of youth

KIDAPAWAN CITY(MindaNews/ 30 November)–Around 1,000 students, teachers, and missionaries from different schools run by the Marist Brothers all over the Philippines gathered here starting Thursday for the 3rd Marist Youth Festival (MYF), one of the biggest gatherings of Catholic schools in the country.

The three-day festival, held every two years, will culminate on Saturday and carries the theme “Marist Youth, Go in Faith and Make Disciples of all Nations.”

Bro. Jeff Rhey Antiquisa, Marist Brothers of the Schools or FMS, MYF national coordinator, said the festival is another cycle in the development of festivals for the youth.

He said the festival, just like in the past, is focused on Mary, the mother of Jesus whom the Marist Brothers considers as the spiritual evangelizer of the youth.

The youth, Antiquisa stressed, “is no longer stranger to what’s happening in the society [now marked with] the loss of human lives, injustices and corruption.  We just have to give them the opportunity to grow in their faith and become co-evangelizers so they could communicate the message of love to everyone.”

The MYF was an offshoot of the many youth festivals around the world, said Bro. Manny Uluan, FMS, president of the Notre Dame of Kidapawan College (NDKC) here.

“The Filipino Marist Brothers wanted to bring out the Asian youth’s spirituality and character among the young people of the Philippines,” Uluan said.

The NDKC, located at the foot of Mount Apo in North Cotabato, is one of the many Catholic schools the Marist Brothers had established in the Southern Philippines.

The NDKC is this year’s festival host.

Joining the festivities were participants from the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City, Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City and Notre Dame of Jolo High School in Jolo, Sulu; and missionaries that run the Malutok Mission community in Palawan, Orphanage of the Marcellin Foundation, Inc. in General Santos City and the Ad Gentes Postulancy Community in Davao City.

Marist Brothers from Rome, Brazil, Spain and France also joined the activity, relaying their messages through a video conferencing.

Highlights of the festival include the release of balloon lanterns, fireworks display, bonfires, candle lighting, ‘Takbo para sa Kalikasan’ (Run for the Environment), exposures to a tribal community at Lake Agku in Barangay Ilomavis here, pilgrim mass, and cultural night presentations.

The Marist Brothers is a Catholic religious institute of brothers and affiliated lay people founded in France in 1817 by Saint Marcellin Champagnat, then a young French priest of the Society of Mary or Marist Fathers.

Data showed that there are 4,500 Marist brothers working in 77 countries, sharing their mission and spirituality with more than 40,000 laymen, and together educate close to 500,000 children and young people.

The next MYF is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)