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Cameroon: National Youth Day
Inspired by the JMJ's celebrations -World Youth Day- established by pope Saint Jean Paul II in 1986, and whose goal is to announce the message of Christ to the youth, the National Youth Day took place, for the first time in Cameroon in the year 2000, at Bertoua. Thirteen years after, the Cameroonian youth gathered in July 2013, at Yaoundé. During these days, the leaders, sisters and priests, have desired that such meetings take place regurlarly. Thus, for the third time, they were held in July 2016 at Douala… These National Youth Days have a purely Catholic accent, but they are also a call to all the youth who want to experience the Love of God through the example of Christ, and who would like to commit themselves in fraternal charity by taking care of the most needy.
From the 17th to 22nd of July, the youth gathered at Garoua for their 4th NYD under this word of the Gospel: "Fear not, Mary, you have found favour with the Lord" (Lc 1, 30). These young pilgrims were first received in the parishes, on "Parish Days". Then they converged towards the said Youth Days for the celebration of cultural and spiritual events, times of discoveries, sharing, prayer, adoration, reconciliation, as well as mutual knowledge of the youth who received them. The JMJ like the NYD are Feasts of the faith where young people come from all over Cameroon -and even from the sub-region of Central Africa - to Garoua. They all experience the Love of God. They started their meditations with the orientations of the Bishop's Synod that took place in Rome in 2018: "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment". In this way, they are already on their way to the JMJ which will take place in Panama on January 22nd to the 27th 2019. Of high importance were values of non-violence against religious extremism; and they committed themselves to promote the reforestation of the Sahel, through the operation "One pilgrim, one tree". Six Daughters of the Holy Spirit accompanied young people from the parishes of Koza, Garoua, Mbang and Maroua: Elisabeth, Monique, Lucie, Monique, Germé and myself. Coming from all over the dioceses 5548 youngsters were gathered at Garoua, among them 754 from the diocese of Maroua-Mokolo, and about a hundred from the diocese of Mbang, 10 of them being Baka.
Presided by Cardinal Samuel Kelda, President of the episcopal Conference of the Bishops of Cameroon, the closing Mass was the highest point of these NYD. For the preparation of the next National Days in 2020, the flag was given to the Ecclesiastic Province of Bamenda.
Simone Dontsa Jiohou, FSE. Published July 31, 2018