Rev Fr Ashwin Cardoza, Director, ICYM Mangalore Diocese

"As the Director of ICYM, I had the privilege of attending several conferences and events across India and the world. Here’s a brief account of my experience at the World Youth Day in Lisbon, ICYM National Conference in Guwahati, and Jesus Youth Conference in Bangalore.

World Youth Day in Lisbon:

The World Youth Day is a global event that brings together young people from all over the world to celebrate their faith and spirituality. It was held in Lisbon, Portugal. The conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet young people from different cultures and backgrounds and share our experiences and ideas. I learned lots of good things, such as discipline, cleanliness, adjustments, tasting new cuisine, exploring places, lovely hospitality, teamwork, and more. Spending three days with Pope Francis, especially watching him from a very close view, was an awe-inspiring moment for me. The night vigil at the open ground, the meaningful way of the cross, and the mass were also breath-taking moments. I consider it a great blessing. God has been generous through the journey and celebration. The event was a great success, and I returned to India feeling inspired and energized.


Terrence Levy Crasta, Gurpur, ICYM Karnataka Regional Vice -President

I had been to Lisbon, Portugal for the World Youth Day Celebration.

"Days in the Dioceses" is a preparatory event before World Youth Day where pilgrims and the host community come together to experience local culture and strengthen their sense of community in anticipation of the main celebration. This period often involves staying with host families, engaging in activities, attending prayer services, and participating in community service projects, enhancing the overall World Youth Day experience.

My participation in the "Days in the Diocese" program made my stay in Fatima, which is a part of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima, a wonderful and enlightening experience. This lovely town is about 200 kilometers from Lisbon, and because of its religious and historical value, it is very dear to many pilgrims. During my time in Fatima, I had the privilege of staying with the daughters of the Church, which allowed me to immerse myself in the local culture and faith. Living with these dedicated individuals provided me with a unique insight into their way of life and their deep commitment to their faith. Meeting people from all around the world was one of the most amazing parts of this experience. At this world youth day, I was able to show my love for Jesus and establish a spiritual connection. It was really touching to witness the unwavering devotion and affection that people of various backgrounds have for one another as a result of their common religion.

During my stay, we visited the homes of Saint Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, whose strong relationship to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima is a source of inspiration for millions. Seeing their houses and learning about the value of their lives strengthened my faith and my admiration of the Fátima miracles. 

Participating in the candlelight rosary at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima church was one of the most moving experiences of my visit. It is impossible to describe the feeling of oneness and spiritual connection that was created by the peaceful ambiance and the pilgrims' collective prayer under the light of innumerable candles. I will never forget that moment since it was so strong and emotional.

I am very grateful to God for His great kindness and the chance He gave me to participate in this special, worldwide assembly during World Youth Day. I will always treasure and remember this journey of religion, community, and personal development for the rest of my life.


Viola Reshma Lewis,Loretto, ICYM Karnataka Regional Representative:

I had been to Lisbon, Portugal for the World Youth Day Celebration representing the Karnataka province of Jesuits. 

First of all, World Youth Day (WYD) is an annual event that brings together youth and young adults to pray, worship, and celebrate their Catholic faith together with the Holy Father. 

Regarding my experiences at WYD, I must say that I was genuinely amazed and happy by seeing so many young people there actively taking part in the festivities. I also enjoyed meeting talented people from all over the world and getting involved in socializing with them. So many young people congregate there merely to see the presence of the most revered Pope. Even, I have had an opportunity to visit the pope, which is very satisfying. Witnessing the pope was one of my dreams.

I travelled to several beautiful places in Portugal, and I soon found that the architecture here and in Goa is remarkably similar. Everything about this place, particularly its hills, climate, excellent museums, viewpoint sites, and pleasant parks scattered around the city, is magnificent. I was very pleased and had an overall positive vibe while visiting St. Antony's birthplace, who is one of my most favorite saints.

It was a great experience to see all the youth come together, worship God, and discuss so passionately about Jesus Christ. It was lovely to have services, mass, prayerful way of cross, musical concerts, discussions, meeting people from all over the world and getting to know their culture, papal welcome ceremony etc. This experience of mine will always be very dear to me, I feel extremely blessed and grateful.


Joylsin Lavita Madtha, Farla:

I was immensely happy to receive an invitation from Mangalore Diocese to take part in World Youth Day 2023 to be held in Lisbon, Portugal.  It was a dream come true for me.  Though, I was not at all prepared for any journey outside India during this period as I was fully engaged in my studies.  When I was informed that more than one million youth from all over the world would take part in the event starting from 1st of August to 6th of August 2023, the temptation I could not resist from accepting the invitation.

World Youth Day is basically a catholic youth festival, which comes once in 4 years in a particular earmarked country. It is the festival of cultural, religious and sporting events performed by youths of various countries assembled from across the world. 

Last world youth day was held in 2019 at Panama City and the next world youth day in 2027 will be held in Seoul -South Korea. I was privileged to be part of this gigantic event. I was able to interact with many youths of different countries without any racism as one family member.

Nearly week-long World Youth Day 2023 concluded in Portugal with His Highness Holy Father Pope Francis celebrating the Eucharistic Celebration for one million youth assembled in the ground at Portuguese land. For me it was a special experience which I will cherish forever.

In the end I would like to say that every youth from different countries should take part in such a mega event which comes once in every four years.

 I am thankful to most Rev. Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha and Rev. Fr. John Pereira, the parish priest of Our Lady of Vailankanni Church, Farla and Diocesan youth Director Rev. Fr. Ashwin Cardoza, for propagating me to participate in the mega event. 


Joyson Madtha, Farla

I think it’s a miracle that I got this opportunity to be part of the WYD - 2023 held in Lisbon Aka Lisboa. Also witnessing the Love of God in person very close to eyes. I would say Mother Mary gave me the opportunity to visit her in Fatima; even though there were very few resources at that time like availability of buses, availability of time, huge crowds of youth make it impossible to travel… so on. Initially we landed in Porto airport, then church “São Pedro da Cova” took care of nearly 250 ICYM youths. Interacted with parish people, had musical night, exchanged our culture with people. For the first 6 days we spent there attending different events and exploring their cities. We traveled to Lisbon where the WYD was supposed to happen. On the way we visited Fathima. It was very crowded by youths and pilgrims. To understand the scale of the crowd, It was more than the pilgrims who used to gather in St. Lawrence Minor basilica combined all days. In Lisbon we stayed in Nigro refugee school.

Things that excited me about this pilgrimage :

1. Got the opportunity to see the Pope very close. 

2. Had Catechesis with Peru countries youth. 

3. While traveling in the cities people got excited to see the Indian flag. They were taking selfies, creating memories. I bet even other countries got this much of attention. 

4. Got to see diversity in faith in different counties' youth. And their beliefs. 

5. Youths were standing in the queue for the food having rosary as a time management. 

6. Each group was travelling and navigating in the crowd like a train holding hands with discipline.

7. No stores or malls were equipped with CCTV. 

8. Architectures and constructions were planted with a long term goal in mind like they built concrete bridges to connect two hilly areas rather than building a tar road just to save fuel. 

9. New youths that we met were requesting for souvenirs to take back home as a remembrance of WYD. 

10. Total new experience traveling In Lisbon using their transport technology and traffic rules. 

On the last day, I have been part of the night vigil along with 15 lakh other pilgrims and been part of the historic moment, who gathered there and came from every corner of the world just to listen to the Pope and his teachings. He was more concerned about protecting the earth and nature. Stressing out the importance of “Laudato si”. His speech was in Latin even though we were listing his preaching on radio real time on 5 different languages on the spot. Had to walk 25+ KM to get to this destination as it was impossible to make use of transport in that crowd. Considering all these difficulties, If anyone asks; “Would you like to attend it again?” I would say yes instantly without blinking my eye. Why do you ask? Because you will not get this experience even if you attend “Tomorrowland”.


Roshan Suraj Crasta, Cordel

An experience that left us wanting more of God and His will over our lives. The memories of it still bring the brightest smile to my face. A Gathering of youth from all across the world bringing their own taste of cultures, blending their ways and sharing Christ to one another in their own unique way in one City, has deepened my faith even more. The various Programs organized for us across the city of Lisbon was fabulous. Even the Rise Up encounters that focused on Fraternity, God's Love and Environment were mind tingling topics to learn from and share with others. 

The main Highlight of this Gathering was Seeing Papa Francisco. His words are engraved deep in our hearts inflaming the desire to follow Christ Jesus and fulfill our purpose here on Earth with Courage. He specifically mentioned that we are CHOSEN and his message of DO NOT BE AFRAID has given us more confidence to take on this life. Along the Journey of 15 days we made a lot of friends, shared meals together, loved, laughed and prayed together. The pilgrimage on the last day was very inspiring, enriching and also challenging as we had to battle the heat while walking for 2 hours or more. But our walk consisted of Hymns to Mary, Praises to our Lord and Fellowship. Walking with the pilgrims truly made the walk much easier, bearable and fun. 

This journey of WYD Lisbon 2023 will forever be an experience to reminisce, cherish and enkindle the fire of God's Love and calling to serve his people through our works throughout our lives.


National Youth Conference (NYC):

Rev. Fr Ashwin Cardoza, Director, ICYM Mangalore Diocese:

The ICYM National Conference in Guwahati from October 24-27, 2023, was a valuable experience. The conference featured informative sessions on leadership and personal development, along with engaging workshops and interactive discussions.

Participants had the chance to enjoy cultural performances. The conference also offered practical skill-building opportunities and networking possibilities.

As the event took place in Guwahati, attendees were exposed to the local culture, cuisine, and traditions.

In essence, the ICYM National Conference in Guwahati provided an enriching experience that combined learning, culture, and networking for all participants.


Mithesh D’Souza Alangar, President, ICYM Mangalore Diocese:

I would like to share my incredible experience of attending the National Youth Conference at St. Francis De Sales School, Narengi, Guwahati Assam.

The focus of the National Conference was the theme, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right!” (Eph 6:1).

We along with the other delegates received a warm welcome from the North East Region Youth and Volunteers. 40 Delegates from various Dioceses of Karnataka Region, 7 delegates from ICYM Mangalore Diocese and more than 400 Delegates from 132 Diocese across the Nation participated in the ICYM 5th National Youth Conference It was a truly remarkable event that taught me about Assamese culture, tradition and the seven sisters of North East India.

I also had the opportunity to speak with other delegates from various regions. 

Being a Diocesan President I explained to them about our culture of Coastal Karnataka and also told them about the good works and initiatives of ICYM Mangalore Diocese. A big salute to our team DEXCO and Central Council for their wonderful service and those exchanges with other Delegates turned out to be some very insightful conversations and the main highlight of the conference was the group discussion in which all of the delegates were divided into groups with representatives from different regions. We discussed a number of topics and each delegate participated by sharing their experience, thoughts and opinions under the direction of the team moderators. Through these group discussions, we were able to see both positive and negative aspects such as issues and problems that the delegates, regions were facing. It was an incredible session.

I got a chance to meet young politicians and exchange ideas. They are the inspiration for young youths. I'll definitely become a politician if I get a chance. Apart from this, we had an opportunity to showcase our Mangalorean Culture. I really appreciate the cultural activities and animations presented by all the regions which taught me about their customs and cultures. 

While the last five days were incredible, we must regretfully say goodbye to the city and all of our new friends. I hope to see you all again soon or possibly at another conference. If it works out in the future, I will definitely attend the next NYC.


Elvin Prashanth Dcunha, Belthangady:

I recently got a chance to travel to Guwahati, Assam in order to take part in the 5th National Youth Conference (NYC), and it really has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Group discussion was the major highlight of this conference, where we had been divided into various groups with people from different regions. Every person from each region was given a chance to voice out our opinions and thoughts with the guidance from the team moderators. The discussions also gave us all a glimpse into the problems faced by different regions. Apart from attending the session, I tried talking to the delegates from different regions. It proved to be some quiet knowledgeable conversation. The cultural event presented by different regions was literally amazing which helped us to learn about their culture. We were sad to leave the city and all our new friends on day five, but I hope that we will meet again in the near future, perhaps at another national conference just like this one.


Kevin Pinto, Ferar :

As this is my last year to be a part of the National Youth Conference as per the eligibility, I am very grateful that I was a part of it. It was the best 5 days, which was filled with a mix of experiences, emotions, and fun.

Firstly, the way the local members of the conference made us feel welcomed. Also, the various group activities held helped everyone to enjoy their time and mingle with everybody. Furthermore, the cultural activities conducted helped us in being aware of different cultures in India. On a whole, this conference was not just fun and memorable, but it was amazingly informative as well. This memory will indeed be cherished.


Colin D’Souza, Balkunje, AmchoYuvak Editor, ICYM Mangalore Diocese:

Irecently had the opportunity to participate in the 5th National Youth Conference held in Guwahati, Assam.

As we arrived at the venue, we could see the perfection in the arrangement. All together 450 young minds gathered to talk about the issues faced by our Christian community, we were grouped in to 20 members and each member representing a different diocese, we could talk about the issues youth facing to bring catholic all the youth to the churches and others issues faced by the youth and how to overcome the problem Also the various group activities held helped everyone to enjoy their time and mingle with everybody. Furthermore, the cultural activities conducted helped us in being aware of different cultures in India. As we were in a group for three days, we could make many friends from all over the country, which was really a great experience to get to know many people from all over the country. On a whole, this conference was not just fun and memorable, but it was amazingly informative as well. This memory will indeed be cherished. I would like to thank ICYM India for organizing such a great conference and ICYM Mangalore Diocese for giving us an opportunity to attend the conference.


Jaison D’Souza, Fajir, ICYM Diocesan Auditor:

I recently had the incredible opportunity to travel to Guwahati, Assam, to participate in the 5th National Youth Conference (NYC), and it has truly been a remarkable experience.

One of the standout features of the conference was the opportunity to choose three workshops over three days from a diverse selection. These workshops further enriched my knowledge and skills, enhancing the overall experience. In addition to the formal sessions, I had the chance to engage in conversations with delegates from various regions as we were grouped diversely, broadening my understanding of their perspectives. These discussions not only gave us a platform to voice our opinions but also offered valuable insights into the vital roles youth play in sectors like family and society.

The cultural presentations from different regions were a splendid experience, showcasing the rich heritage and traditions of each area. It was an enjoyable and educational journey.

As the conference came to a close on the fifth day, we bid farewell to the city and the new friends we had made. I hope that our paths will cross again in the future, possibly at another national conference similar to this one. This experience has left a lasting impact on me, and I'm grateful for the connections, knowledge, and enjoyment gained during this remarkable journey.


JAGO National Jesus Youth Conference.

Rev Fr Ashwin Cardoza, Director, ICYM Mangalore Diocese:

The Jesus Youth movement aims to help young people grow in their faith and spirituality and to become leaders in their communities. The conference had a variety of activities, including talks, workshops, and prayer sessions. "Faith sharing was an amazing experience. Rex Band added colour to the conference, and knowing different congregations was an attractive point. Cultural events added life to the youth and proved that they are talented. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet young people from different parts of India and to learn from their experiences. The event was inspiring to see so many young people coming together to share their faith and their vision for the future.

Overall, my experience as the Director of ICYM has been incredibly rewarding. I have made use of the opportunity to meet new people, make friends, learn, and explore. This exposure has helped me empower young people to become leaders in their communities and in the world. I am grateful to the Bishop of Mangalore Diocese, Most Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, for his constant support and encouragement."


Jasmitha Monteiro, Ukkinadka:

It was a wonderful time in my life. On October 21–25, 2023, I participated in a national conference in India, which was organized by Jesus Youth in Bangalore. It is a wonderful program, and I am really proud to participate in such events. When we reached Bangalore, they arranged transport according to our group. They had a special application, which really helped us understand and participate in the best way. It is a well-organized program. Its major theme was "wake up and reach out". More than 16000 people participated all over India, and from Kasaragod, 20 ICYM members actively participated. It involved holy mass in different languages and holy adoration. This program taught us to build our spiritual lives through different sessions. We were sad to leave the city and all our new friends on day five, but I hope that we will meet again in the near future, perhaps at another national conference just like this one. 

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