Thousands of young Catholics are set to walk in a peaceful prayer vigil on an Island hit by civil unrest as part of a National Youth Day in the Philippines. Church leaders are calling on young Catholics to be agents of change as the event gets underway in spite of significant security issues in the region. More than 2,300 young faithful from all parts of the country are gathering for the five-day event in the city of Zamboanga on the island of Mindanao.

As reported by, local priest Fr. Wilfred Samson remarked that “At the end of this five-day celebration of faith, our dream is that young people recognize themselves as agents of change for our Church and our country.” Further, he added, “Therefore, it is our hope that this encounter will help to form our young people as future leaders and as missionaries of the Gospel in the world.”

From 1987 to 1990, the National Youth Day event was held in the country’s capital, Manila. However, since 1991, it has been celebrated in several dioceses of the country.