By Robin Gomes
More than 5,000 Catholics concluded the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE) on Sunday in the capital, Manila, recognizing the need to accompany young people in their search for role models.
This year’s PCNE took place at the University of Santo Tomas, during the current Year of Youth, which is part of a 9-year preparation by the Philippine Catholic Church for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the country in 2021.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, introduced the PCNE in 2013 as the local Church’s response to the call of the new evangelization in the run-up to the 2021 centenary celebrations.
Now on its 6th year, the July 19-21 PCNE concluded with a reminder to Catholics to accompany young people in their "search for truth."
This year's conference on the theme, "Filipino Youth Walking with Jesus," focused the discussions on "strengthening and enriching the faith and spiritual life" of young Filipinos.
Bishop Rex Andrew Alarcon of Daet urged the elders to help young people find answers to their questions as well as role models who act as moral witnesses.
He said that even though the elders are unable to provide answers to all the questions of young people, they must make the youth feel they are being accompanied in their search for God and truth.
Catholic lay preacher Bo Sanchez, founder of the Light of Jesus Ministry, said young Catholics need "authentic witnesses" to live the faith. He said they need mentors, people who can say, “come and see”.
Health or sickness?
People from different walks of life shared their testimonies during the three-day meeting.
Sisi Rondina, a volleyball player, shared how she dealt with anxiety, a mental health issue young people complain about. However, she said, she experienced God’s healing power after praying to Him.
Cardinal Tagle questioned the so-called criteria of mental health, saying that just because a person experiences a moment of loneliness or frustration does not mean he or she is "mentally unstable."
He said that the capacity of a person to deal with frustrations should be part of mental health.
"It is when you know how to handle it, how you can face it, and you don't lose hope, then you are healthy because you are normal," he said.
Cardinal Tagle hoped that at the end of the conference "we will all walk the talk with the youth, the Church, society, creation and with Jesus."
In his homily at the concluding Mass on Sunday, the cardinal reflected on welcoming others because they bear the image of God.
At the end of the Mass, he asked all, including priests and bishops, to take out their mobile phones and use the social media to text their families and friends the message, “ Stay alive with Jesus! Christ is alive”. (Source: UCANEWS)