KAMABAI, Sierra Leone, West Africa—Localizing the spirit of the XXXI World Youth Day held in Krakow, the Our Lady of Sierra Leone Parish held its First Youth Camp last August 5 to 7, 2016. Fray Vincent Cadeliña, OAR, parish priest of said parish, initiated what was recounted as the first-ever youth day celebration here since the Recollects arrived. Success spelt the holding of the three-day events.
More than a hundred young people, including the four catechists, participated in those events combined with fun, work, learning, and encounter with the Lord in the sacraments.
On August 4, the day prior to those big days, joint forces of the excited young people coming from the different nooks of the parish came to show their palpable support to the youth camp. Manual preparations gave way to a cleaner and safer venue.
Day 1 schedule which opened at 8:00 AM included the usual registration and orientation. At 11:30, everybody assembled for the holy mass presided by Fray Mark Ryan Prado, OAR, the day’s birthday celebrator. They partook of their lunch together at 1215, and, afterwards, by group, they accomplished their assigned responsibilities such as washing the dishes, cleaning the toilets, and preparing the session hall.
At 3:30 PM, Fray Prado returned to give a catechesis on the theme, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt. 5:7), replicating that of the WYD in Poland. The Via Crucis followed, stretching from the Pastoral Center to Kassassie 1 Road uphill. A post-dinner catechesis on the sacrament of Penance was given by the parish priest himself, which aptly disposed the participants for the ensuing penitential rite and confessions. The praying of the rosary concluded the day.
Day 2 was marked by a barrage of talks: the first was given by Maria Charito Singco, a Filipina employed as Project Coordinator at the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited since 2007; the second on “Teamwork”, by Rutger, an intern student from Holland under Ms. Singco’s department; the third on “Faith in God”, by Kayla Fishbeck, an American from Texas who works as a volunteer researcher on malaria at the Catholic Relief Services in Freetown; the fourth on “Hygiene Awareness and Promotion: HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Ebola Prevention and Control”, by Maria Estrella Hernandez, a Filipina nurse who started working in Salone (short for Sierra Leone) on the same year with Ms. Singco and presently working with her in the same company.
The last two talks continued in the afternoon: the fifth on “God’s call”, by Sr. Juliana Wangao, a Kenyan sister of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), and the sixth on “Vocation to Priesthood”, by Sem. Michael Conteh, a diocesan theology seminarian from the parish.
The rest of the afternoon was spent for social games like Amazing race which brought the fun to its maximum. After some needed preparations, and the 7 PM dinner (after which the boys were assigned to wash the dishes, which was something counter-cultural, because for them only girls are supposed to do the washing and the cooking), the equally awaited showcase of talents dubbed “Youth Festival” ran at 9:00PM. Again, the praying of the rosary at 11:00 PM closed the day.
Day 3 was a Sunday. Activities such as doing group assignments, breakfast, and activity evaluation preceded the closing Eucharistic Sacrifice with Fray Cadeliña as presider and homilist. After the mass, everybody enjoyed his/her mouthwatering lunch consisting of spicy spaghetti with bread and soda, many thanks to the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited for the sponsorship.
The mini-WYD celebrations pegged on three objectives—to provide an experience of a youth day; to introduce them to recollection, catechesis and informative talks; and to give avenue for unity through various activities—were a sure success. They went home renewed and rekindled to be missionaries of God’s mercy to others.