Today, July 23rd, 2023, the African Digital Youth Faith Influencers — ADYFI — turned their antenna to the Land of Martyrs, Uganda, for a commissioning ceremony for their members attending the World Day. The elegant ceremony showcased the African continent’s splendour and its youth’s rich vitality. The commissioning Eucharistic celebration took place at the Ugandan Martyr’s Basilica, the Shrine of Munyonyo. The event was attended in person by the youths of the Archdiocese of Kampala and virtually by other African Digital Youth Faith Influencers of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network, Pactpan. Among those who attended virtually were youths from different parts of the continent, especially Kenya, Nigeria, Congo, and So Tome and Principe. There were also participants who participated from outside the continent, such as Italy, Canada, and the United States.
The ADYFI are young Catholics who respond to Pope Francis’ call to be missionaries to the new continent, the digital world, by dedicating their lives to evangelizing Christ through social media. They responded to the pope’s call to rise and live fully, like a resurrected generation who, despite the present situation of the world and their individual experiences, are invited to participate in the life of Christ. Pope Francis tells the youth in his post-synodal Apostolic Exultation — Christus Vivit — that
“Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way, he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life … Christ is alive, and he wants you to be alive!” (1999, 1).
Through ADYFI, African Catholic youth embrace the call to witness to their fellow youth in and outside the continent.
In this call, the Pope renews his trust in young people to be creative. He believes that young people themselves know how to find appealing ways to come together. They know, he insists, “how to organize events, sports competitions, and ways to evangelize using social media, through text messages, songs, videos and other ways.”
He concludes that the Church’s sole responsibility is to give them the freedom to evangelize other young people wherever they may be (1999, 210).
Because the youths are “the Church of Now”, the chief celebrant of the commissioning mass, Fr Ambrose Bwangatto, beckoned the youth to be pilgrims of hope. “You are not going as tourists; you are not going as visitors, he insisted. You are rather going as pilgrims of faith. And, as a consequence of that identity, your faith must influence the whole of your experience. It must influence the world of your experience.” Your journey, interactions, participation in all the events, and prayers, … must be characterised by the faith of the (Ugandan) Martyrs (Pactpan Media, 2023).
As the choir of Trinity College Nabbingo, Kampala opened its rich repertoire, the participants were able to appreciate better the diversity and beauty of the Catholic liturgy. They sang in several languages, including Swahili, Latin, and English. And to crown it, these young and talented ladies welcomed all those attending the World Youth Day in Swahili, Chinese, French, English, and German.
The celebration was also successful and proved that Uganda is the land of hospitality. In addition to being a welcoming scene, even from a virtual perspective, the Shrine of Munyonyo embodied African hospitality and spirituality. We were able to appreciate this because the media team from the Archdiocese of Kampala anchored the entire African youth to the ceremony in the African spirit of family. When they were approached to stream the celebration live, they exhibited no hesitation whatsoever. On the contrary, they promptly deployed all their equipment, thereby connecting Africa to their enchanting nation, the cradle of humanity. Indeed, the media team of Uganda Catholic Online allowed the participants to participate in the mystery of the Eucharist and the commissioning ceremony.
Prior to saying the commissioning prayers over the ADYFI attending the World Youth Day, the chief celebrant reminded them that they were going, not in their names, but for the entire continent. He insisted that they should serve as the face of the continent, displaying vigilance, joy, vitality, faithfulness, and authentically embodying the African Dream. Then, the members received the cross of pilgrims for all African Digital Youth Faith Influencers members. Collectively, we will embark on this pilgrimage through the power of prayer.
To watch the Commissioning Ceremony