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Journeying with young people

This Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations with the theme, The courage to take a risk for God’s promise. In his message for the occasion, Pope Francis points out that the Lord’s call is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us. Young people encounter Christ through formation activities and service. This is one of the major focuses of youth ministry.
 
The pope’s message candidly says that responding to the Lord’s call naturally demands “the courage to risk” making a decision. During this risky journey, the pope, again, urges all of us to provide young people with opportunities for listening and discernment, while helping them discover God’s plan through youth ministry and vocational promotion.
 
In our local Church, the Year of Youth themed, Practice, Belief, Youth aims to help young people to deepen and practice their faith.
 
Many Catholic youth groups, parish youth associations and the Diocesan Youth Commission organise activities to encourage young people to care for the disadvantaged. They also promote the DOCAT to help young people understand the value of faith and the impetus it gives to acts of charity and social concern. 
 
Accompanying young people in their growth requires that we live out our faith with them at home, in the parish and elsewhere. Pope Francis, in his post-synodal exhortation, Christus Vivit (Christ Lives), points out, “Social engagement and direct contact with the poor remain fundamental ways of finding or deepening one’s faith and the discernment of one’s vocation” (170).
 
Christus Vivit points out that youth ministry involves “journeying together,” which helps young people to discover and grow so that “each young person can be daring enough to sow the seed of the message” (210); and also “to live as brothers and sisters, to help one another, to build community, to be of service to others, to be close to the poor” (215).
 
In these times of vocations shortage and increasingly complex social circumstances, promoting vocations needs appropriate pastoral plans. Some local Churches have launched systematic school pastoral work by providing young people with more scope. At the same time, formation is planned in coordination with specialised catechism materials to enable young people to think about vocations.
 
During this journeying together, the Church needs to share the faith through the good examples set by clergy, nuns and laypeople. “Many places are experiencing a dearth of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. This is often due to a lack of contagious apostolic fervour in communities, which results in a cooling of enthusiasm and attractiveness. Wherever there is life, fervour and a desire to bring Christ to others, genuine vocations will arise.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 107) While some are saddened that young people don’t participate much in parish life, they may wish to step take a step back and ask what impedes or discourages them from doing so? What can they can pass on and share with them?
 
To nurture a culture of vocations, the Diocesan Vocation Commission has organised a series of activities in May, which began with the Walk for Vocations on May 4. Then, for three consecutive Sundays until May 26, clergy will be dispatched to celebrate Vocations Month Masses at different parishes. 
 
Let us journey together with our young people and pray for vocations so that they may respond to missionary vocation with courage. SE