Vision And Venture

MINISTERING TO TODAYS’ YOUTH

Welcome to yet another ‘youthful’ year. We are also happy to have Sr Erica Lobo DHM the Diocesan Lady Youth Animator . 

  Our youth ministry today is a challenge. There seems to be a focus on the negative side of the youth forgetting that, they have become more responsible, skilled, informative, knowledgeable, broadminded and as we have seen in the last elections, serious about nation building. This negative perspective needs to be changed. Having been raised in a society where corruption and communal disharmony thrives, surrounded by different belief systems, the youth of today crave honest guidance, untainted by self-interest and ulterior motives. In our society in particular where they have to grow up in a cynical culture that assigns human worth based upon physical beauty and rare talent, young people are taught directly and indirectly that they are only valuable if they look a certain way and cultivate friendships with the “right” kind of people. As a result, they tend to be lonely, suspicious, scared and hurting inside.

Therefore when ministering o youth today, it is essential that we demonstrate unconditional love like Jesus did. The youth today, anticipate that their elders will condemn and criticize them — the music they listen to, the clothes and hairstyles they wear — without making an effort to understand. If we have to form friendships with today’s youth, we may have to take the initiative in demonstrating concern, respect and an interest in them and their passions. We must take them seriously and try to understand their perspectives before passing judgment on them. Whether teaching them Scripture or life skills sharing from our heart can help to mold and direct them in truly significant ways. Unless they feel confident that our advice is intended for their best interests, they will be skeptical, fearing manipulation.

So many youth long for a closer relationship with their parents and elders and also an experience with God. Our forth coming programs i.e.  Diocesan Youth Day and Denary Youth Days will be an occasion to empower our youth and I pray that all of us ministering to the youth will be empowered by the Holy Spirit so that our efforts will bear fruit in plenty.

 

 


DECISION TO SUCCEED !

 

 

I have come across many successful youth and the reason for their success is because they took a ‘decision to succeed’. We have to help all our youth to make this decision especially our youth who have appeared for their board exams.

I am truly amazed at how often I hear youth talk about what they want and yet when asked if they have made a decision to have it, they are either totally dumbfounded or find the question odd. We  see also many adults who are living their lives just wishing and wanting and the truth is, wishing and wanting will never get you anything or anywhere.

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Successful people in all areas of life, personal success, relational or financial, all have one thing in common. They all made the decision to have success. If this seems foreign to you, then take a serious look at where you are. Are you exactly where you choose to be in your life? If you are, then you have at some point made the decision to have it. If you are not, you have obviously missed this step which is available to you everyday.

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Once you have evaluated your situation, ask yourself: Where Do I Want to Go? You must know where you want to go. Be specific, once you have a clear picture, make a verbal and a written decision to have exactly what you have put on paper and visualize it in your mind. You can make such a decision at any point in your life.


It is only important to focus on where you are going. God will do the work and show you the way. Spend time everyday tapping into the emotion of achieving your goal and you will always succeed. Like the other day I met a youth who was celebrating his first anniversary of successful business and he said, that he was motivated with the words: I can, I will, I must!

 Youth and faith formation
There is a growing crisis in our archdiocese in regard to quite a number of youth who are not taking the Catholic faith seriously. Compared to the West they do attend mass but are they convinced of their faith? There is also anxiety at home about the communication (‘passing on’) of faith and the growing generations in families who seem to have become helpless in passing on their faith traditions to their children. In the sense that faith is a developing relationship with God, I wonder if families have a tendency to be too quick to see themselves as failures. Perhaps, in the same way, we may be too slow to take our share of the responsibility for not helping more to attract and retain the attention and interest of young people. I spoke to some people who are very active and involved in their parish life and one or two others. Your feedback will help us to do something concrete to avoid what is presently happening in the West.
As a Church we believe that faith is communicated in the first place by witnessing to it, that is, by practicing love, justice, mercy, peacemaking and so forth in our daily lives. Parents are “the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith”. Their role in passing on faith is irreplaceable, not simply helpful, good or ‘nice if you can get them on board’. We need to guide the parents to be more aware of their important duty of simply living Christianity with their children, with all the example, explanation and activity that this entails. I noted too that if parents are themselves ambivalent in their relationship with the Church it also adds to the challenge of communicating faith.
An active Parish Council member told me that “Catholic parents want to bring their children up in the faith but it’s proving very hard. Children are complaining very early that Mass is boring; an awful lot of youth over twenty years see the Church as irrelevant and it’s not just those who have not been taught or brought up properly. Parents also say they need much more help in the faith formation of their teens especially after they receive Confirmation”
A Lay Youth Animator shared about her experience: “Many parents had questions of how to pray with their teens, how to answer the moral questions they raised, how to share gospel values, how to cope with challenging behaviour, how to keep them involved in the Mass and the parish and even how to justify being practicing Catholics.”
Parents are also confused of what is right and what is wrong. For example, a SCC leader was saying: “if parents equated faith with Mass attendance they were likely to be more focussed on the practices or external appearance of faith life: how to teach children their prayers, how to behave in Church, getting them involved in the parish etc. They were more likely to identify needs such as clearer catechesis especially for young people, more relevant homilies, more activities in the parish or school for the young, and better role models.” Is this ‘right’ she inquired.

One lay Catholic after completing a Catholic leadership program and being inspired by the Church documents told me “The documents and teaching of the church are not exposed to young people….they are not informed about them. Maybe there’s a need to teach them, in a more friendly language so it can go into schools, catholic colleges, homes; on issues concerning them i.e. humane vitae.”

A successful lay person in the secular world and committed to the Church said “Home needs joining up with church much more and the value of what parents are actually doing needs recognizing, especially the parents’ foundational experiences of love. That’s how we start to bring kids up in the faith – by showing them love. People often feel their ordinary life is divorced from what is happening in church on Sunday, so we need more teaching about the gospel value of what we are doing as family.” One of the Bible Cell teacher told me that the “Crunch point comes, it seems, for many Catholic parents when a decision has to be made about when to stop insisting that their children go to Mass. A corresponding crunch point, therefore, for the family of the Church must be how to help parents manage the resulting guilt, bereavement and grief.”
One of the youth leaders whose parents are active in the church had this to say: “If my parents were not so incredibly patient, loving and blessed by God, we children would not have had such a wonderful foundation in the Catholic Church. I really feel that Parenting Courses are necessary, because when I come to have children, please God, I want to give them a good start in Christian life such as I had.”
I also approached a well to do catholic family and this is what they told me : “We have struggled with the question of whether to make our children go to church after their Confirmation which they received while in Std XI. We have not made them go although we do. We go because we think that Church gives us time to be with our thoughts and our prayers. We hope that through our example our children will return to the Church as they get older and they see the relevance of God in their own lives. We still see this every day in their qualities of compassion, love and care. Are they less Christian because they do not go to church? I often feel guilty about them not going, but I do not really see why.”
Another lay youth animator told me: “The church offered little to young adults once they had been confirmed, until they were ready (and willing) to be married. This begs a huge question of where and how the Church reaches and provides for those who wait many years before marrying or who never marry for whatever reason.”
Hardest to listen to was the pain of parents and grandparents living with the bewilderment, pain and guilt of failure. This is also from my past experiences of parents who felt helpless when one of their children got married to someone of another faith. One particular mother with tears told me : “If only the Church could be more understanding of the difficulties faced in even good Catholic homes and free us of the constant question ‘Where did we go wrong?’”
There was also a recognition that though some young people did not practice their faith this did not mean they were without faith. In the course of several conversations quite a few pointed out that practice of the faith did not always consist of going to Mass. One lady who visits her daughter abroad regularly, told me this wonderful thing : “We have caught the modern habit of belittling our young. No one says anything good about teenagers – they are lovely – we need to make positive efforts to love them, wait while they go off and make their mistakes and then welcome them back as adults. And stop looking at them as a problem because they are lovely.” She admired the youth here in our diocese compared to the dioceses in the West where quite a few are moving towards atheism.
One difficulty when talking about this point of retaining the interest of the young is that to some it inevitably seemed to suggest ‘change’ or ‘entertainment’ and therefore occasionally provoked a defensive or hostile reaction. I think that language might need to be employed sensitively in this area. Perhaps we need rather to consider how a range of diverse needs can be accommodated within the life and practice of the Catholic faith so that no one feels alienated or excluded, and everyone feels welcome and included.
So in conclusion what is very apparent is that it is in the context of the family that faith would seem to be most effectively communicated and nurtured. Secondary to this influence is the importance attached to a sense of belonging to the local Community. The whole aim of Neighbourhood Youth Groups is getting the youth connected to one another and feel the sense of belonging to the Community and Church.
Our Youth Ministry will be more effective if we support parents as the first educators of their children so that they can become well rounded human beings through, for example, parenting programmes, parent youth dialogues, discussions and debates on faith topics etc. May the Holy Spirit empower us to take up this challenge.
Fr Anthony J Fernandes
Director

6 responses

25 05 2009
Samit

This is a nice and thoughtful post.
Good reading … keep it up.

1 06 2009
Alister

very informative.. we should have more blogs spreading good info to our youth.. !!

2 06 2009
Juliet

Very nice. A good guidance path for youth as well as others in general. A kind of Focus to Success.

3 06 2009
Mrs Lalita Alphonso

Fully agree that to succeed is a decision and then dont look back .. just focus and go ahead … I will and i can…. the way will not be easy but believing in self and God move on … trust and God will make a Way .. your way possible .. Jai Ho to Jesus the Way

31 08 2009
Trevor

Most of us youth are like ships without a sail and a rudder……Father thank you for your inspiration…..I feel very proud to have a youth director like you.God bless you.”PEACE 2 U”

6 10 2010
Veena

Great site though, keep it more updated

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