CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 19 May 2018

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Young people, family and vocation

Following the two Synods of Bishops on the Family, Pope Francis announced that the next synodal assembly, to be held this coming October, would focus on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. It is not difficult to see that the pope’s line of thinking linking mercy to the family and young people.
 
What is the faith situation of young people today? What challenges are they encountering?
 
Most formation only seems to focus on preparing to receive the individual sacraments, such as Confirmation, First Communion and even the sacrament of Marriage. Setting aside the matter of content, this kind of approach can easily lead young people to think that faith formation is only for purpose receiving the sacraments and that they graduate after that.
 
To use secular terminology, without sustainable development, what was learned in the past is very quickly forgotten or is rarely put into practice in daily life. It is all well and good when young people study at Catholic primary and secondary schools. However, when they enter university or society, the seeds of their faith can be easily overwhelmed by huge secular torrents.
 
In fact, the formation of adult catechumens prior also sees similar scenarios. Pope Francis has said that in the faith formation of young people, accompaniment is essential and discernment is especially important. Since young people are at an exploratory stage in terms of personality and faith development, the seeds of faith need to be tended and nurtured in order to sprout and grow well. 
 
Among other things, teenagers have to deal with peer pressure and group influence. To be firmly rooted in faith and to share the journey with peers who share that faith is vital.
 
However, among those receiving Confirmation, the available choices for the road ahead seem few. Boys might become altar servers (girls are also altar servers at quite a number of parishes), while girls might join young women’s associations. What is worse is the attrition rate as they drift away from Church involvement for lack of engagement.
 
On Vocation Sunday, activities are always organised to promote vocations. Young participants are aware of the need to listen attentively to God’s call—although their future direction may still seem uncertain.
 
However, it might also be beneficial if married couples are also invited to gatherings to share the story of their vocation to marriage. This can lead young people to a more holistic understanding and discernment.
 
It has been said that the men and women who choose married life are as brave as pthe riests and nuns who discern for the religious life, though their vocations are different. This is because marriage requires one to live with another who is completely different from them for a lifetime.
 
In the formation of young people, whether pertaining to personality or faith, the role of the family is paramount. They learn from their parents how to treat others and how to build relationships with God. The family is the seedbed of vocations. SE