By Matters India Reporter
Jalandhar: A Catholic archbishop has urged Church workers to accompany young people in their search of the purpose in life.
“Help our youth find answers to the fundamentalism of life such as “Who am I,” “Where do I come from” and “Where am I going,” Archbishop Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar told 131 delegates from 80 Latin dioceses who spent three days to seek ways to educate young people the basics of Catholic religion.
The September 11-13 National Catechetical Conference on Training for Regional and Diocesan Secretaries of Commission at the Pastoral Centre Jalandhar, Punjab, addressed “Youth Catechetics in Church in India” and worked out an action plan to reach out to young people.
The participants comprised regional and diocesan secretaries and those interested and involved in the catechetical apostolate.
In his presidential address on the opening day, Archbishop, chairman of the Commission for Catechetics under the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), urged the participants to guide the young and challenge them to fall in love with Christ.
The prelate, who has worked with young people as a priest, said young adulthood is the time of discovery, search and introspection. It is also time for questions and idealism. “They have great zeal, but lack stability, and are dependent on peers.”
Help them discover how to express love and get to know, love and worship Jesus, the prelate said and added, young people are not objects, but protagonists of evangelization. He encouraged the participants to help youth become disciples and apostles of Christ.
Archbishop Anil Joseph Couto of Delhi, CCBI secretary general, set the tone of the conference with a call to follow Christ with one’s whole heart and life, particularly by a life of prayer, in imitation of Christ. “We must eschew all sin and become Christ’s witnesses. God has chosen his Church, his apostles, to bring Him to the world, so our responsibility is great,” he added.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, chairman of the CCBI youth commission and the host, explained how his diocese began with the Jalianwallah Bag massacre in 1919 and grew rapidly over the years. The diocese now has 123 parishes with more than 120,000 faithful.
Currently, a catechetical team stays 15 days in a village and teaches. Other teams visit families and hold a four day program in the open, Another team follows up.
The bishop said no open opposition to the Church has been reported in Punjab. “But we need to exercise caution while sharing what is going on,” he added.
Salesian Father Gilbert Choondal, in his keynote address on the “Challenges of Youth Catechesis in the Context of Synod 2018, noted five cries of the youth: self hatred, psychological orphans, social protest, prejudiced and joyous. “Youth are often angry and rebellious towards authority. Hence youth catechesis is seen as a great challenge today,” the priest said.
He said the Church had surveyed young people of all races and religions in preparation for the Synod on youth to be held in Rome in October.
“The Church looks at youth differently today. It could be said that Pope Saint John Paul II initiated the modern ‘youth ministry’ with the World Youth Days,” the Salesian priest noted.
He stressed the need for changing the Church from the current obsolete model to more relevant to youth of today. “Catechesis should be make pleasant rather
Father Duming Gonsalves, executive secretary of CCBI Commission, presented the annual report of the commission where he highlighted the work done at the national level and the networking done with the regional and diocesan commissions in different parts of the country.
“Give real catechesis, then people will never leave the faith,” Father Gonsalves said and asserted that catechesis must become a top priority in a diocese.
For youth catechesis, the personal relationship of the pastor with the youth is important, including meeting one to one to get to know their real needs and concerns, he added.