By Devin Watkins
The conclusion of a 3-year initiative dedicated to young people formed the occasion for the Pope’s message to Paraguayan youth.
Organized by the country’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Triennium ended with a forum held over the weekend in the capital, Asunción, which was attended by some 600 young people.
In his message to participants, Pope Francis reflected on the theme “Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment”.
“As the fruit of this time of grace in which you have reflected on the centrality of faith,” the Pope encouraged Paraguayan youth “to embrace Jesus Christ, who has called you to be his friends, so that you may remain in him and bear much fruit”.
The Holy Father also urged young people to listen to the Lord’s voice.
God, he said, sends them – both as individuals and as a community – to be “witnesses to the Good News of salvation” amongst the poorest of their brothers and sisters.
Under Mary’s protection
Pope Francis concluded his message inviting the young people of Paraguay to pray for him.
And he entrusted them to the intercession of Mary, under the auspices of Our Lady of Caacupé.
The Pope’s message was read out at the forum’s closing Mass on Sunday, and was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
To take Gospel to needy
The forum, which concluded the Triennium on Youth, saw participants come from all over Paraguay.
Three days of spiritual reflection showed them how to act as the Church’s outstretched arms for their contemporaries, with small group discussions exploring themes like the family, politics, women, sport, addiction, and the environment.
The goal of the forum was to “inspire, strengthen, and consolidate the social action” of the young people present.
With the Pope’s words of encouragement, Paraguayan youth were given a missionary mandate to spread the Gospel to their brothers and sisters most in need.