CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Young people and the Synod of Bishops

The Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment concluded on October 28. Its final report reminded families and the entire Christian community that they must accompany young people in their faith journey.
 
The synod fathers encouraged greater involvement of young people in the Church, in particular, inviting those who have felt alienated to “return home.” The report pointed noted that all called to holiness and the Church must identify young people’s present circumstances. Stressing the importance of schools and parishes, the document then urged all of us to accompany young people and help them discern God’s call for them. It concluded by encouraging them to bear witness to their faith.
 
Youth formation work in Hong Kong needs more venues and media to enable the Church and young people to discern and walk together.
 
Towards the closing of the synod, Pope Francis gave each of the young people who were auditors a copy of the DOCAT. This gift is an important reminder because it is an action guide to help young people build a culture of love and sanctify themselves and others.
 
Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung of Hong Kong, recently said that the local Church would extend the Year of Youth. This will allow more time to promote the DOCAT as well as drive the formation work of social concern forward. However, even after formation, he challenge of sustaining growth and empowerment remains. 
 
Sanctification calls for acts of mercy. In Gaudete et Exultate (Rejoice and be Exult), the pope illustrated the example set by Jesus in consoling those who suffered. “Such persons are unafraid to share in the suffering of others; they do not flee from painful situations. They discover the meaning of life by coming to the aid of those who suffer, understanding their anguish and bringing relief” (76).
 
While an ageing population and the disparity of wealth are getting more challenging, there is a greater need for the Church to enable the youth to identify Jesus among the poor, the sick, the elderly and the disadvantaged. Social concern in action is not only the call of the times, but also an opportunity to practise Catholic social teaching.
 
The Synod of Bishops suggested that we make good use of such tools as music to help the young people deepen their faith. In fact, the Hong Kong Diocesan Youth Commission has organised activities to develop youth ministers ability to use the relevant resources. 
 
Indeed, ways of evanglising and pastoral care which keep abreast of the times appeal to young people. If the Church wants to accompany them, it must address the obstacles young people encounter on their path of development. When young people are faced with an unshakeable, unjust system and stagnant social mobility, the Church which fails to address their needs might find it hard to convince them that it cares.
 
The Synod of Bishops delved into social issues, particularly showing concern for disadvantaged and exploited young people. Local Churches must give young people formation so that they can go out can care for the community.
 
While parishes are the soil for formation, families have a duty to form the faith of young people, which includes the dimension of social concern. Nurturing young people has always been the duty of the family.
 
The synod was not just about pastoral direction, but also a prayer process. The faithful are called to transform the attitudes of the Church and to to build a more friendly and participatory environment for young people. SE