By JINA AMBA
Pope Francis has marked this year as the Year of the Youth.
The Catholic Church throughout the world and Papua New Guinea conducted different programmes and animated activities to strengthen the youths in the communities and walk of lives.
As the concluding ceremony of the Year of the Youth in Morata, St Martin de Porres Parish in NCD, a youth rally was held from Nov 6 to 10.
A total of 225 youth from Morata took part in the rally during which they were urged to look at their lives in the light of the Word of God. It also was a call to change their lives so that they would be able to share the values of the Gospel with other through their lives.
All the sessions held during that week were centered on how the youths could nourish and strengthen their lives in and through the Word of God.
Sessions were based on themes like: Journeying along with Jesus in our life (From Nazareth to Jerusalem); who is Jesus for me?; Biblical characters as a model to strengthen me in the state of doubt, fear, trust and love in my life; Mary and Martha as two aspects of Christian life; prayer accompanied with good works or actions; and journeying with St Paul in our missionary journey of life.
The sessions were conducted in a participatory style where after the facilitator, the participants were invited to go into their groups and share their experiences of life in the light of the Word of God.
During group discussions, Peter Kaum, a youth from Morata who participated in the rally spoke of his “very bad past.”
Speaking in Tok Pisin, he said: Mi pundaun long pasin bilong sin na pasin bilong dispela graun. Mi spak, mi pilai kas na bingo, mi kisim marujana. Mi ino kam long lotu. Smapela pren bilong mi askim mi long kam long dispela rally. Tok bilong God em i sutim lewa bilong mi na senisim laip bilong mi.”
Mary Siop, another participant said, “I have a Bible in my house. I never opened it thinking that it is a story book 2018 years old of the people of Israel. But this rally helped me to see how the Bible is a book of love story of God and myself. I could see my life reflected in the Bible and Jesus speaking to me. I feel like reading more and more because every bit of it speaks about my life and also it helps me to live a good life.”
Jacob Naip, a youth from Morata who participated in the rally said, “I always complained to God about my life. I did it especially when bad things happened in my life. Looking at the life of our Lord Jesus and St Paul helped me to look at life in a positive way and accept every moment of it whether good or bad as a blessing of God and live it gracefully thanking God for it.”
Samnya Namb said, “The Word of God really helped me to look at the voice of God in my family. I could see the voice of my parents as the voice of God. Many a times, I did not listen to my parents and I fell into problems.
“It is just because it is the voice of God in my family that I rejected. Today, I decided to read the Bible every day and be listen to my parents and carry out the work they ask me to do.”
Thadeus Maka, another youth from Morata who participated in the rally said, “Many people say youth are the problems to the community. I wanted to say, we, the youths are not problems to the community but we live with problems and are easily driven and drown in it. But in this rally I have found the anchor to hold on to, that is the Word of God. It will help me to deal with the problems and still hold on to Jesus in my life.”
During the group discussions and presentations, there were many who came up with beautiful and meaningful sharing of how the Word of God had touched and changed their lives.
The youth rally concluded with the Holy Eucharist on Sunday, Nov 11. The entrance procession was led by Enga mothers, the Bible and the final procession was led by the Oro community and the offertory procession was led by Enga youth.
The main celebrant of the Holy Eucharist was His Excellency Most Rev Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, Apostolic Nuncio of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. ]
During his homily, he encouraged the youth saying, “My dear young boys and girls, my dear brothers and sisters, this question should resonate in our ears all the time. Who should be blamed for our situation?
“I think each and every one of us should be blamed. Why? Because we failed to react on issues at proper times. We always ask: What I can do? I am a simple individual and the system is so complicated. But what I want to tell you is this: It is easy to blame others. But better to take the responsibility and decide to make changes in the world. You can make changes in the world today. Never wait for others to bring changes, instead, work hard and become agents of change in the society with the help of God.”
He said, “I am very glad to see all my young boys and girls in the church today. Dear young friends, you must have the desire to become protagonists of change. If you want to be protagonists of change you must start asking questions.
“Rather than asking that question “why”, you should ask “how” to solve problems. You may not be strong enough to do everything by yourself, but you can do something to make changes in the society. That little which you can do, is enough to transform the society.
“My dear young friends, you must have the desire to become protagonists of change in the Church also and to participate fully in the mission of the Church. As the Pope’s representative, I wish to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your love for the church; your care for the church.
“Very often we hear that youth is the future of the church. That is well and good. But, I think, you are not just the future of the church, you are indeed the present of the church.
“Now, at this moment, you have the right and responsibility to be part of the church. Therefore, it is your duty and responsibility to provide the missionary dynamism for the church’s evangelising thrust in today’s fast changing, globalised and greatly interconnected world.”
He further exhorted them saying, “My young friends, let me repeat what our Pope said during the last synod on youth. He said, ‘The church, therefore, does not go out ‘to’ the new generations, but goes out ‘with’ the new generations.’ Yes, the church is with you today. You are the heart of the church.”
He strengthened the youths and said, “While you finish a week-long youth programme under the banner of this parish, let me give you just one tip to take with you home: Live your life without forgetting God.
“We living in a world that hates God and all that is Godly. There are people who want to tell you that God doesn’t exist. It is almost a fashion to negate God and faith in God. Yes, many of the youngsters in the modern world live and experience the illusions of contemporary man, who believes he can dominate the world. But, they not realise that they are in turn dominated by idols such as money, power and pleasure that produce injustice and corruption.
“Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, if you want to be successful in your life, you must have faith in God and trust in God. I don’t want any of my young brothers and sisters as someone who lives a life without God in that life; I don’t want you to live a life forgetting God and his great love for you.”
“Jesus does not leave us alone in our adventure, especially in moments that put us to the test. He will be always with us to take care of us. In Deuteronomy 31:6-8 we read, ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake’.”
After the homily, the 225 youths were invited to make the commitment to be faithful to the teachings of the Word of God in front of the Bible.
Each youth was presented with a Bible and called to change their lives and live their lives in the light of the Word of God. They were joyful and grateful to their church, St Martin de Porres Parish, Morata for conducting the youth rally and also presenting them with the Bible.
The Holy Eucharist concluded with the prayer to St Don Bosco, the patron saint of the youth to strengthen their lives by the Word of God.
By JINA AMBA