By Robin Gomes
Over a thousand faithful, mostly young people, from all of Pakistan’s dioceses, attended Saturday’s concelebrated Mass in which Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan, Archbishop Christophe El Kassis also participated, the Vatican’s Fides news agency reported.
“The Year of Youth in Pakistan is a time when the Church strengthens young people, committed to the development of young people in the educational, professional and spiritual fields so that everyone lives with dignity,” said Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad, the Coordinator for the Year of Youth. “It will be a time to listen to them, to listen to the challenges they face in the modern era and to help them grow,” he said during the Mass.
Bishop Shukardin encouraged priests, religious, nuns, catechists and lay people to actively take the initiative to meet young people and create opportunities to improve their skills and talents. He also urged all to work to reach young people who are far from faith, especially those with various types of addictions and to listen to them and help them get out of their addictions.
After the Eucharistic celebration, a ceremony was held to declare the solemn opening of the Year of Youth. After the Mass, Cardinal Joseph Coutts of Karachi, together with the Apostolic Nuncio and other Bishops, lit the candle of the Year of Youth, declaring open the Year of Youth.
In a message, Pope Francis sent his cordial greetings and assured his prayers for young people in Pakistan. Archbishop El Kassis read the message in which the Pope said he is praying so that “in the coming months, young people will grow in a prayerful union with the Risen Jesus, in the knowledge and love of the Catholic faith and in the zealous service of their brothers”.
In this way, putting their youth and gifts at the service of the Lord and Church, the Pope said, they will increasingly become "witnesses to the Gospel wherever they are". The Pope concluded, entrusting the youth of Pakistan and their families to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. (Source: Fides)