By Lydia O’Kane
The youth of the world are in the spotlight this 12 August as the United Nations observes International World Youth Day. In order to raise awareness about issues young people are facing today, the World Council of Churches is marking its own Ecumenical International Youth Day this Wednesday.
The initiative was launched in Geneva in 2019 in order to highlight "the contributions of young people to the ecumenical movement.”
2020 focus on Mental Health
This year Ecumenical IYD will focus on the issue of mental health. This theme is the result of input from young people within and outside WCC networks who wanted to explore this pressing topic.
The WCC programmes on Youth Engagement in the ecumenical movement and Health and Healing are collaborating on this year’s theme.
Joy Bohol is Programme Executive responsible for Youth Engagement at the World Council of Churches. She told Vatican News that young people are really looking forward to the 12 August event.
“We have so much excitement that we received from many people all over the world.”
Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebration will be a virtual one, bringing together a variety of events, with the help of technology, from different parts of the world.
According to Ms. Bohal, this virtual gathering is really aimed at “highlighting different contributions from all over the world.” “You will see,” she says, “that young people will be leading different parts of the virtual event.”
As part of this global youth celebration, there will be readings from different regions around the world, including the Pacific region, Africa, Europe, North and Latin America. There have also been songs composed and written especially for this International Youth Day.
Youth on the front line
Speaking about the importance of young people to Christian churches today, Ms. Bohal notes that Jesus and His disciples were young people too. She also points out that the youth of the world are the ones that are on the “front line to use our gifts and through our faith to respond to the different issues in our world today, so the church is being called to be intentional in providing the spaces of shared leadership with young people towards bringing the Kingdom of God on earth.”