.- At least 1,500 Catholic youth from across the Middle East will gather at Abu Dhabi’s St. Joseph’s Cathedral for Arabia’s second Catholic youth conference this Nov. 15-17.
“The future of a community lies in its youth, and we have placed paramount importance in our parishes to events and activities that foster and strengthen the faith of our youth and young adults,” said Bishop Paul Hinder of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, which is based in the United Arab Emirates.
He said many youth in the region cannot participate in international gatherings like World Youth Day and Youth Arise because of the expense.
Because of the conference, he said, “we have now ensured that the Catholic youth in Arabia don’t miss out on the fellowship with other Catholic youth.”
The conference’s theme is Jesus Christ’s words from the Gospel of Mark: “All things are possible for the one who believes.” The sessions at the conference are intended to respond to the unique facing Catholic youth and young adults in the region.
Speakers include Catholic apologist Matt Fradd, Franciscan friar and musician Father Stan Fortuna of New York, Brother George Gabriel from the Philippines-based Preacher in Blue Jeans Ministry and Father Michael Senfuma of the Ugandan band Anawim.
The conference will have a musical concert called reJOYce, featuring Fr. Fortuna, Anawim and Alphons Joseph of the India music group RexBand. The local bands Light of Jesus and MasterPlan will also perform.
The concert is expected to attract more than 5,000 people.
Bishop Hinder and Bishop Camillo Ballin of the Bahrain-based Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia will preside over the conference.
Catholics in the Arabian vicariates are mainly expatriates from other parts of the world who work in the region. The expatriates are mainly from the Philippines, Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and from Syria and Lebanon.
The first Catholic youth conference in the region took place in November 2009 in Dubai.