Autalavau Tupulaga Samoa (ATS), Catholic Youth Conference Samoa, was held in Upolo-Samoa (Pacific Islands) from 16th to 23rd July 2015, with the theme “The Holy Spirit and Evangelisation.” This is the third time this Conference has been held, and the first time two Sister Disciples, Sr. Maria Amalamo and Sr. Maryanne Attard have been a part of it. It was open to Samoan youth from Western Samoa and American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and USA. This year a group also participated from the Tokelau Islands.
The 16th to-18th July were days for arrival and settling in. There was time for sport and relaxation by enjoying games of rugby, volley ball, cricket, etc.
On Sunday 19th the Conference commenced officially with a procession through the main street of the capital Apia. Various groups carried their banners while singing and praying, walking until they arrived at Mulivai Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception where a solemn Mass was celebrated. The main celebrant was His Grace Archbishop Alapati Lui Mata’eliga, Archbishop of Apia-Samoa. In the evening many people from the local area and beyond arrived at Infant Jesus, Leauva’a, the venue for the Conference, to listen to a discourse by a Member of Parliament who welcomed all of us officially on behalf of the Government and all Samoa.
Each day saw an early start at 6.00 am with prayers, followed by Mass at 7.00 am. Every day presentations and conferences were given on diverse themes, such as Evangelisation, Sacraments, Social Issues, The Family and Consecrated Life.
The devotion to the Divine Mercy is widespread in Samoa and the Chaplet was prayed together every afternoon. Every evening a designated group would be responsible for the evening entertainment of dance and song. The local people from surrounding villages would also join the group, swelling the numbers to around 1,000.
Every evening the Archbishop addressed the youth, summarising the day, before praying with them and giving them his blessing. The fourth day was designated as the day for Religious Congregations to present their charism and mission. Eight female and two male religious congregations were present.
That afternoon the youth were divided into three groups and transported to different venues for the Stations of the Cross which were animated and enacted by the youth. The Archbishop participated in the whole day on this day, as well as being present every morning and evening. He has been a wonderful support for everyone.
The last day was dedicated to summarising and assessment as well as programming for the 2018 Conference. Bishop Peter Brown, CssR from the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago was the principal celebrant for the closing Mass.
The Sister Disciples from Australia were very happy to have participated this year in the Conference and we thank God for the opportunity of meeting so many youth, both collectively and individually. We continue to pray and trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide and enlighten them to follow Jesus in whatever their vocation may be.