At the conclusion of the 6th Asian Youth Day, a young Filipino pilgrim stated that the greatest thing he will walk away with is a higher value of his faith, thanks to the profound devotion of Korean Catholics.
“The biggest thing that I will take with me from this experience is the vitality of faith here in Korea, because in the Philippines, we know that the Philippines is a Catholic country, but the faith becomes routine,” Jessie Perez said.
“But here in Korea it’s not routine, it’s not common for them to become Catholic. That’s why they value their faith so much,” he observed, stating that “I would like to instill our young people to value their faith, to value what they have, to value the Catholicism that we have.”
Hailing from Manila, Perez was present along with other members of his group for Pope Francis’ closing mass for the 6th Asian Youth Day, which followed the theme “Asian youth! Wake up! The glory of the martyrs shines on you!”
The Mass took place Aug. 17 at Haemi castle, which is a few hours south of the capital city of Seoul.
Noting how the main purpose of his visit was to participate in the Asian Youth Day, Perez explained that he also wanted to come “to experience faith, to experience the vitality of the Catholic faith in Asia” through the youth event.
Being in mass with Pope Francis “serves as a challenge for me with the homily that he gave us, the Asian youth,” he said.
“It challenges us to be more rooted in our faith. We might not experience persecution like the martyrs, but in modern times we experience a lot of persecution, and the challenge is to stand firm in the faith, stand firm on what we decide and what we do in every aspect of our lives to be” greater witnesses of the faith.
Echoing the encounter’s theme, Pope Francis urged those gathered “Asian youth, wake up!”