CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Bishop proclaims Year of Youth

HONG KONG (SE): In declaring a Year of Youth to begin on December 3 this year and run until November 25 next year in his Message for Advent, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung is inviting the young people of the diocese “to walk the talk in solidarity with one another through prayer and action, and together help build a better world for the greater glory of God.”
His decision comes as a result of his many meetings and consultations with young people since he was installed as the bishop of Hong Kong on August 5 this year.
He recalls the words of St. Paul to a youthful Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness… but set an example to fellow believers in speech, conduct, in love and in faith and purity” (1 Timothy 4:11).
He says that lack of the opportunity of involvement in Church affairs and the inability to have any impact on the activity of the diocese has proven to be a big frustration for young people.
They are also looking for more active participation in a Church that is far more transparent, as well as guidance in how to involve themselves constructively in their outreach to the poor and needy.
They also believe that there is a big danger that the mass gatherings of international youth at events like Asian Youth Day and World Youth Day run the risk of just being a flash in the pan, because of a lack of systematic follow up for delegates when they return home.
Young people often hear themselves described as the “hope of the future,” but as a youth worker in Kentucky, the United States of America, Carol Horston, reports from the reflections of young people at a summer camp in 2014, it is just another way of telling them that the present does not matter.
“What we say,” Horston says, “is the present matters! Youth do not need to wait to be the Church, to study scripture, to worship, to pray, to engage in mission, or even to assume a leadership role.”
She continues, “Young people have unique perspectives and talents to offer. They are often equipped with passion and optimism that the Church desperately needs. We should encourage youth to understand that who they are and what they do right now is important.”
Bishop Yeung has promised to do this and has begun by declaring a year devoted to exploring how to involve young people in as many aspects of Church life as possible and delve into finding concrete ways of doing this.
Horston also points out that young people are vital in Church life. She stresses that this is not a numbers game, but a challenge to start paying attention to individuals.
In echoing the words of St. Paul, she reflects, “Young or old, we are all important in the body of Christ. We all have a purpose, no matter our age. Youth, just like adults, are being equipped for both present and future ministry.”
Horston counsels looking to see what is right for young people today and encourages congregations to invite them to be with them as equal partners.
She also argues that the Church needs young people as a model for adults in what it means to be vulnerable, raw and tender.
“The Church needs reminders that we are called by Christ to be a community of faith that is relevant, authentic and courageously honest,” she concludes.
Bishop Yeung has taken a brave step in declaring the Year of Youth and like Horston, sees the danger in not making use of opportunities and refusing to take up challenges, and doing it right now!

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