GENFEST 2018: A UNITY EMBODIED
By: Fr. Marc Will Lim SDB
Genfest 2018 held in Manila, Philippines was a concrete experience of unity in diversity. Participants coming from different races, religious beliefs, genders and even convictions were gathered together fostering real communion. Succinctly, it can be said that harmony which was a mere possibility came into existence and became a reality.
The Don Bosco Academy (DBA) Pampanga - Mabalacat took part in this three-day event from July 6-8, 2018. A total of 19 Grade 12 students comprising of 11 and 8, boys and girls, respectively responded to the invitation of the Focolare Youth represented by Gio Francisco and Karelle Bulan. Both visited DBA last February to promote the said international gathering. Along with Fr. Marc Will Lim, SDB, DBA Spiritual Moderator and two other members of DBA Pastoral Affairs, namely; Br. Rico Mercado, SDB and Mr. Christian Larce, the contingent left DBA after the Mass of the Holy Spirit presided by Fr. Jose Armando Cortez, DBA Rector concelebrated together with the other Salesian priests assigned in DBA.
Furthermore, upon arrival to the venue, the DBA participants already felt the welcoming atmosphere shared not only by the organizers which were composed mainly of active members of the Focolare Movement but also from other participants of the Genfest. After a series of talks about personal and social borders from different nationalities, the first day was culminated by a Cultural Night identified also as the "Asian Night" where various testimonies, songs and artistic presentation about unity in cultural diversity were presented by the different participants from Pakistan, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, India and also the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the morning of the succeeding day was filled with different workshops and forums facilitated by various respected speakers identified to their particular field such as Economy, History, Arts, Business, Education, Ecology, Government, Youth Leadership, Ecumenism, etc. The Genfest Participants were given almost a hundred options to choose from. The venues of the workshops were located in Atrium Hotel, De La Salle University and Focolare Center among many others. Afterwards, the participants were challenged to join the activity entitled "Hands4Humanity". This activity involved immersions in different orphanages, elderly houses, poor communities in Manila and even a clean-up of the coastal area of Manila Bay. The second day was concluded by a concert this time with performers coming from Europe, America and Africa. GenRosso a well-acclaimed Italian Band of the Focolare Movement were among those who performed.
The last day was started with the Mass presided by His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, together with the Apostolic Nuncio, other Bishops from different Dioceses of the Philippines and priests both Diocesans and Religious from various countries of the world. In his homily, Cardinal Chito pointed out that love does not make us blind but rather it makes us see beyond what is physical. Thus, love is necessary for unity. Moreover, the president of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce graced the event gave a speech in Italian which was directly translated into English as she speaks, urging all participants to work for unity.