Kohima: Catholic youths from the Angami Naga tribe observed a three-day-long convention at Chiephobozou under Kohima district of Nagaland, strengthening their faith amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The 32nd Angami Catholic Youth Association (ACYA) convention, which concluded on Sunday evening, witnessed participation from 59 Angami villages.

Hosted by St Dominic Savio Church Chiephobozou, the convention was held under the theme: “In your patient endurance, you will gain your soul”.

Most Rev Dr James Thoppil, Bishop of Kohima, celebrated the holy Eucharist on Sunday. In his homily, the Bishop hoped that the gathering of the Angami catholic youths from 59 villages will not be a mere social gathering but be a “school of Christian discipleship by community celebration of faith”.

Citing biblical references, he urged the youth not to separate themselves from the Christian fellowship saying, “Great things happen to us within the fellowship of Christ’s church, which will not happen when we are alone.”

He added that the resurrection of Christ has brought the apostles together into one community of fellowship, and has also given a new life, a new relationship with god and one another. He therefore urged the youth to open up and accept new set of values, relationships and readiness to give rather than have the “determination to grab”.

Members of the Northern Angami Catholic Youth Association choir pose for a photograph

The Bishop also encouraged the youth to practise the principles of Christ and to proudly profess their faith. He also urged them to be merciful to one another. In this regard, he said: “The church is the body of Christ, and as the body of Christ, we must also become mercy personified.”

The celebration of the holy mass concluded with the blessing of the newly elected ACYA team led by Kelhouzasie Lawrence as its president. During the valedictory session, Lawrence assured that the new team of office bearers will work in unity and give its best for the community. He also thanked the elders for their blessings upon the new team.

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Meanwhile, outgoing president Zeneikho-o Benedict expressed happiness while exuding confidence that the new team of officers led by its new president may lead the Angami catholic youth force to greater heights.

He also acknowledged the efforts of the host village — St Dominic Savio Church Chiephobozou, and all who contributed to the success of the convention. He revealed that the next ACYA convention will be held at St Maria Goretti church SechüZubza.

The three-day-long convention concluded with the handing over of the ACYA flag to the president of Western ACYA president Seyiekhotuo Silvanus by the Chiephobozou Catholic Youth Association president Patrick Kiewhuo. It may be noted that the 50 years’ celebration of the ACYA will coincide with the 33rd ACYA convention.

The ACYA flag being lowered during the closing ceremony on Sunday

Earlier on Saturday, several speakers including Professor Rosemary Dzüvichü, advisor of Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), exhorted the gathering. The women’s leader urged the catholic youths to be messengers of peace to the world.

Saying that the world is full of injustice, she called upon the youth to stand up for their rights reminding them that there is a reason for peace and God’s plan must be recognised.

Dwelling on the theme, “Challenges ahead for the Angami Catholic Youth,” she highlighted about the growing unemployment crisis in Nagaland. In this regard, she challenged the younger generation to develop their work ethics.

Dzüvichü also raised the issue of corruption in the state saying that corruption has become a way of life in Naga society and is even evident in the churches. She urged the Catholic youth to be truthful, sincere and honest in their works, and to also stand and fight against corruption.

She further urged the youth to develop a competitive spirit in them and at the same time educate themselves to become youth leaders. She also encouraged the youth ponder and deliberate on the role of the youth in the churches.

Dzüvichü, who is a professor at the Nagaland university (Department of English), also urged the need to preserve and protect one’s cultural identity and tradition. She encouraged the young educated youth to write and record about the history, folk songs, and so on, in order to pass on the tradition to generations to come. She urged the youth to broaden their mindsets as Nagas and not just as members of a particular tribe or village.

Furthermore, she highlighted about the issue of gender imbalance in the Naga society. She said that there is now a need for women to come forward and claim for their rights. In this regard, she also urged men to think about uplifting women in the society. Citing about the lack of women in the decision-making body of the state, she challenged women participants to ponder upon the role of women in the society as well as the church.

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The convention began on Friday with the unfurling of the ACYA flag by Rev Fr Vemedo Joseph Kezo, spiritual director of ACYA which followed by the presentation of the newly composed ACYA anthem.

Vikepelhou Lucas Meyase, former director School Education Department, graced the inaugural session as the main speaker. Speaking on the theme, Meyase urged the youth to follow the principles of Christ.

The former ACYA president also encouraged the faithful to show great endurance, to forgive one another and to lead others by example challenging the youth to stand firm in their faith and believe in the word of god.

Johnny Ruangmei, president of the Catholic Association of Nagaland (CAN) who attended the convention as special guest also reminded the youth to reflect about the purpose of the formation of the ACYA. Saying that it is an appropriate time for the youth to have a bold vision, he urged them to retrospect the past and to also imagine its future.

During the three-day triennial convention, Catholic youth from five regions — Northern ACYA, Southern ACYA, Western ACYA, Kohima Town ACYA, and Chakhroma ACYA — attended the convention held at the Northern Angami Public Organisation (NAPO) building at Chiephobozou.

Wearing of masks were made mandatory for the delegates during the sessions. Halls were also sanitised regularly.

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