As the last of the tents were being put up on the night of November 24, 2016, a light breeze blew through the GTC Elementary field. It was as if the field itself waited for the sunrise to signal the beginning of the 4th Annual Diocesan Youth Camp.
Youth Camp Day 1 began with a sunny morning as the 350 participants from all eleven groups began making their way north. Decorations for the tent were being hung as early as 7AM including Christmas lights, banners, palm leaves, and tinsel. At about 9AM, the participants lined up for the Pilgrim Walk to San Roque Church to celebrate the Welcoming Mass. The groups held their banners high and cheered throughout the walk. As everyone started filing inside the small parish, the volunteers (maybe even some of the participants) breathed a huge sigh of relief when everyone was able to fit! After the Mass presided by Fr. Allan Cabatian, OAR, the campers proceeded to walk back to GTC Elementary.
Day 1 was filled with many memorable events including the Parish Stomp Exhibition where every group had to create a stomp in twenty minutes that incorporated the theme, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy.” Everyone had a fun, unique twist to their stomp! Also, the first talk by Fr. Phillip Rollon, OAR was given at the cafeteria and was followed up with small and big group sharings. However, it is safe to say that the Youth Night became the highlight of the first day. Every group performed their version of “Song of Mercy” while the audience watched from their blankets on the field under a starry sky. There were instruments, dancing, and really creative presentations that rocked the night! Later, there was the “Lucernarium”, Adoration & Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and all the participants were invited to confess. After confession, everyone was ready for lights out.
Day 2 began at 4AM for the San Roque tent as they carried the andas of Mama Mary and started to wake everyone else up. The sky turned from dark blue to a beautiful pink as volunteers from every parish helped create the Living Rosary. Balloons filled with helium were tied together to create a rosary that was lifted into the sky led by Fr. Neil Bullos, OAR. Some of the campers even got to record it as it floated away. There were two more talks, one with Mr. Vic Abueme who discussed the Works of Mercy. This was followed by a sharing from youth speakers Marcel, Millania, Molena and Tash, who gave powerful testimonies about the experiences of God’s mercy in their lives. There was also a video showing of the 2016 World Youth Day in Poland. After the talks was a chance for the campers to plan future events with their groups. Ms. Olive Aninon explained that the plans were to create strong youth ministries in their groups. Then, to close the whole camp was a Mass celebrated by Most Reverend Bishop Ryan Jimenez. The plans made by every group were offered in the Mass as well. Awards were given out, and the announcement everyone was waiting for was made by the Bishop himself. San Antonio and El Shaddai were given the responsibility of hosting next year’s camp. As Bishop explained, “This year it was in the north, so next year it will be in the south.” San Roque youth turned-over the Diocesan Youth Camp symbol illustrated by Fr. Neil Bullos to San Antonio/El Shaddai youth.
It was two days to bring the youth together to celebrate God’s loving mercy, and push the youth to become more active in their Catholic faith. This two-day event could not have been possible without all the hardworking volunteers from the host parish, San Roque and all the youth volunteers from the other parishes. In particular, thank you to the three OAR priests: Fr. Allan, Fr. Phillip, and Fr. Neil who supported the youth in all the planning and execution of the activities. Also, to all the clergy who helped with confession and concelebrated in the closing Mass, thank you so much for your time and presence. Thank you to Sr. Emma Lusterio and Mr. Vir Abueme of the Diocesan Youth Commission for their tireless support as well.
Check photos here.