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The commitment of young people, the “backbone” of Taungngu diocese

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Taungngu (AsiaNews) – Young Catholics of Taungngu diocese, described as the backbone of the life of the Church, are preparing for imminent events that will see them front stage. Every year, the diocese of Taungngu organizes various programs aimed at children and young people from the local community. On October 8, they participated in the biennial youth gathering, in anticipation of Pope Francis’s apostolic journey to Myanmar (27 to 30 November); in celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the evangelization of the region, which took place in 1868 thanks to the missionary work of priests of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME); in preparations for the National Youth Congress scheduled for summer 2018.

In the last meeting, the young people addressed the following issues: the role of youth within the community, their contribution to celebrations, liturgical services, and volunteering. Their leaders are very ingenious, and for each assembly they organized training courses. Last weekend’s programs focused on tourism, the natural and ecclesiastical areas, and the prevention of human trafficking.

Volunteers who facilitated the activities first questioned the young people about their knowledge of the history of their church, city, and landscape. Later, they taught them some basic concepts about tourism and divided them into three groups. Together, they also prepared a questionnaire that each group took with them during a visit to the most important places in the community. At the end of the visit and the interviews, the young people engaged in a presentation of what they discovered. In this way they felt responsible for welcoming visitors to the diocese during the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of evangelization.

The Human Trafficking Prevention Course has provided a clear framework for the children: what are the risks, who are the most vulnerable, how it can occur and how can it be fought. In the evening, at the end of the work carried out by Caritas volunteers, participants in the youth gathering took part in the song “La strada”, by Italian songwriter Claudio Chieffo. The homage to the Italian language was a tribute to all PIME missionaries who served the diocese and who taught local Catholics the value of local language and culture.

On February 13, 1868, four missionaries from PIME, founded only 18 years earlier, landed at Rangoon, the capital of Burma. They were the Milanese Apostolic Prefect Eugenio Biffi, already missionary in Colombia from 1855 to 1862, and the priests Fr. Tancredi Conti from Bergando, Sebastiano Carbone and Rocco Tornatore, both of the Diocese of Mondovì (Cuneo). The city of Taungngu was part of the apostolic vicariate of East Burma until 1927, when the Toungoo vicarage was founded. In 1955 the diocese was established, which now has 22 parishes, served by 64 priests and 170 nuns. Local Catholics number over 42,000 and have experienced suffering, restrictions, and forced transfers caused by ethnic conflicts. For its proximity to Burmese capital Nay Pyi Taw, the diocese has an important strategic role in relations with the authorities.

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