CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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Honouring young people as leaders of the Church

Celebrating the Year of the Youth is a lovely way to honour the young people of the Church and also recognise them as leaders of not just tomorrow, but today. This should be a big year for the Catholic youth of Hong Kong and they need to capitalise on it and make the Church visible in this city. 
 
The Church is in a season of discernment, with young people as crucial part of that journey. The diocese began the year on the front-foot with a three-day study camp for the clergy focusing on the Youth and Vocation Ministry. The Diocesan Youth Commission and the Holy Spirit Seminary are undertaking big efforts to engage with young people in new ways and helping them to encounter Jesus Christ in their varied life situations.
 
Leaving the responsibility of guiding the youth and fostering vocations to the diocese or to the youth commissions would be equal to washing one's hands of the gospel mandate every believer has received. Families, prayer groups, youth groups and parishes need to have definite plan of action to engage their young people, even as the primary onus of living one’s faith rests on the young people themselves. 
 
Involving young people in the various events of the life of the Church is an important means of engaging them. The month of February opens with the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, which was instituted in 1997 by Pope Saint John Paul II. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2. 
 
On this feast day in many Churches around the world, candles are blessed symbolising Christ who is the light of the world and the Church prays for women and men in consecrated life. In many dioceses the celebration is transferred to the following Sunday after February 2 in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the universal Church. The celebrations could gain greater significance in the Year of Youth because, the vast majority of vocations to the priesthood and religious life come from the young people.  
 
This year, the Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life in Hong Kong passed unnoticed by the majority of young people. It could well happen that the whole Year of the Youth passes with many of the Catholic youth totally unaware of it unless there is a concerted effort from the consecrated and lay people, and the clergy. 
 
In his message for the upcoming World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, Pope Francis calls on young people to consecrate themselves like Mary. "Like the young woman of Nazareth, you can improve the world and leave an imprint that makes a mark on history, your history and that of many others," Pope Francis said in the message, released on 21 March 2017. 
 
The Church awaits young people with dreams, plans, ideals and courage to destroy the walls of stagnation and to open up the road that lead to a better, fairer, less cruel and more humane world. jose