CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 21 April 2018

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Make wise use of the Year of Youth

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong launched the Year of Youth during Advent in early December last year. After almost two months, the initiative has yet to bring about much change within the Church. However, it is still in its early stages. 
 
Meanwhile, the atmosphere of Hong Kong society is already hard to bear.
 
With the end of the school holidays at the beginning of the year, several student suicides and even a spate of child abuse cases were cause for grief. Whenever there are incidents of suicide or child abuse, the government’s responses invariably include raising their expectations of frontline workers or updating work guidelines and occasionally increasing resources, but there are hardly any long-term strategies to address these issues. New events will dilute society’s concern about young people, leaving the problems that need to be dealt with unresolved.
 
We are well accustomed to this passive approach to handling matters and always hope that it will be effective in similar cases in future. Unfortunately, we have forgotten that these are ever-changing times. 
 
“Everyone must attend school. Does it mean that everyone really wants to attend school?” “Everyone is getting married and has children. Does it mean that everyone knows how to get along with their partners and educate the next generation?” 
 
Have we ever listened carefully and responded to the real needs of students and young couples?
 
Faced with the current situation in Hong Kong, old methods can hardly ward off new, emerging social problems.
 
Many Church organisations have already designed a series of activities for the Year of Youth and have even imposed responsibility directly on young people to respond. 
This scenario looks familiar. 
 
Many times in the past, participants of World Youth Day or Asian Youth Day were invited in haste by Church organisations to share their experiences or to assist in launching services as soon as they returned to Hong Kong. Some of them were even requested to shoulder the burden of organising mega events. 
 
We seem to believe that participants of the Youth Days have mastered the organisational skills needed for major events. However, when the events fail to achieve the expected outcome the blame is on the young people. Even the underlying value of giving them training and formation is belittled. If this is the case, will the Year of Youth bring the young people blessing or woe?
 
The Year of Youth will draw to a close on the Feast of Christ the King in November this year. In this digital age, we face continual changes, the pace and force of which are far greater than ever. We should pause to listen carefully to the needs of the young people and continue to journey with them in transformation. 
 
It might seem risky to us, but it is definitely worthwhile. SE