By Robin Gomes
Responding to the challenges of the world Synod of Bishops on young people in the Vatican in October, the Catholic Church of Pakistan has declared 2020 as the “Year of Youth.”
"The Year of Youth in Pakistan will be a time to nourish our future, to take care of young people, to listen to them and to accompany them on their journey of faith and to grow in holiness," said Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad.
He was speaking to the Vatican’s Fides news agency after a meeting of the Youth Commission of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference (PCBC) on Thursday in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Karachi.
The meeting was held a week after the PCBC declared 2020 as the "Year of Youth".
"Our mission is to help young people grow in their faith and live a happy life in society. We are inspired by Jesus who walked, shared and accompanied the disciples of Emmaus," said Bishop Shukardin, who represented the Pakistani Church at the Synod.
The Vatican on April 2 released the much-awaited Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis entitled “Christus
Pakistan’s bishops have formed an ad hoc committee to plan and oversee the various initiatives of the Year of Youth which will begin with the feast of Christ the King in 2019 and will close on the same feast day in 2020.
The theme chosen for the yearlong event is the biblical verse, "Here I am, send me!" (Isaiah 6: 8), chosen precisely in the light of the 2018 Synod. Bishop Shukardin explained that the theme “wants to help young people recognize, discern and live their missionary vocation, to serve the Church as priests, religious and laity". He said that they need a spiritual father and also pastors and lay leaders who while working with them will accompany and help them overcome the challenges they face in their daily lives.
"We must empower and involve young people in the Church by giving them responsibility, trusting them and forming them to spread the Word of God and Christian values also through the media, music, arts, games and sports".
The Committee will organize events in all the dioceses of Pakistan, including holding seminars on the Pope’s post-synodal document, "Christus Vivit".
Authentic peace builders
While announcing the Year of Youth end of last month, PCBC president Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad Diocese explained that the Church in Pakistan, responding to the challenges launched by the Synod, believes that the new generations "can promote the Gospel of peace through friendship and communion among young people belonging to various religions, ethnic groups and cultures".
Young people, he said, are "active citizens called to work for the promotion of unity and harmony: they are responsible for
The Year of Youth aims to "give and spread the evangelical values of love, hope, unity, peace and mutual respect, so that young people can easily cultivate unity, peace and harmony in our society, offering an example of coexistence among people of different faiths".
In this framework, Caritas Pakistan, together with other associations such as "Jesus Youth Pakistan", launched the "Youth for Peace" project, sending young people to be authentic
The message, starting from young Christians, aims to reach young Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, in order to reach politics and society: "We are the future of the country, we want to build a future made of peace, justice, tolerance, respect for the inalienable dignity of every human being, without distinction of race, religion, social class", say the young Pakistanis.
The PCBC’s "Justice and Peace" Commission explained that they “work to create in everyone the awareness that harmony and peace are a common good and a priority for the entire nation.” It stressed the need to “start this work of awareness-raising in schools and in the educational path of young people.” “The future of Pakistan is played by letting values like peace and justice penetrate the formation of the new generations," the Commission said. (Source: Fides)