“Youth is the original and stimulating stage of life, which Jesus himself experiences and thereby sanctifying it.” (Christus Vivit 22)
Through his post synodal apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis highlights the importance of youth and youth ministry in the life and mission of the Church. The eparchy of Satna rightly throws her whole attention on youth, by declaring the current year as the ‘Year of the Youth’. The special flag placed in the church calls up the attention of the faithful to this aspect and a special prayer for the youth of our eparchy is being recited by the whole community at the end of the celebration of the Holy Qurbana. On this occasion, I gratefully remember and wholeheartedly thank the parish priests, Sisters, Youth Animators and parishioners for extending their sincere cooperation and support for the Youth Ministry.
The Summer Camp for the youth of our eparchy was held on 01-03 May, 2019 at St Thomas Church, Sidhi. Around eighty candidates from the parishes of our eparchy participated in the program. The year 2019 -2020 has been officially declared the ‘Year of the Youth’ in our eparchy. The first two days were spiritual preparation for the youth, lead by Rev. Fr Francis Chakkungal from the eparchy of Jagadalpur, drawing the youth to the marvels of the spirit filled life. It was followed by a spiritual preparation, a time set apart fully for the penitential services for the participants. The priests from the nearby mission stations were available for administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the youth.
The last day marked with the Pontifical Holy Eucharist celebrated by His Excellency Mar Joseph Kodakallil followed by hoisting of the flag, formally inaugurating the Youth Year. A short cultural programme was staged on the occasion. ‘Together to be with the Lord’ is the theme adopted for the Youth Year. Bible verse chosen for the Youth Year is: “I write you young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn 2:14). Then the participants together recited the special prayer prepared for the youth year. Finally His Excellency encouraged everyone with his words of blessing.
To update with the career guidance for the youth in our eparchy, Sanjos team from Ujjain were invited in this programme. Youths were divided into two groups for conducting the programme in a better and useful manner. The activity, workshop and assessment brought awareness in the life of the youth on their strengths and weaknesses.
The final hours of the summer camp was dedicated to the planning for the Youth Year and instructions from the director. After the solemn Rosary, a cultural evening had been held to mark the conclusion of the Summer Camp.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Ps 119:9). In order to motivate the youth to read and comprehend the words of our Lord in their daily life, the Youth Department conducted a Bible Quiz Competition in the parish level. The Gospel of Mathew chapters 1 to 10 was the portion and one hundred questions have been prepared. The competition was held on Sunday, 14th July 2019 in all parishes and the youth were enthusiastic to participate in the competition. The Youth Department is happy that the youth benefited much from this competition based on the Word of God.
With the goal to enhance Catholic values and to explore the hidden talents in the life of the youth in connection with the youth year the youth department conducted PPT and poem writing competitions in the diocesan level for the youth. The PPT brought awareness on the importance of the Word of God in the life of the Youth and poem explored the devotion to our Mother Mary. Many of the youth participated in it and made it a platform to unearth their hidden talents.
Youth Department has arranged zonal level one-day training programme for the youth and catechism students (Class V onwards) of Satna, Tikamgarh and Singrauli zones on 21 July, 04 August and 11 August respectively. This was to enable our Catholic children to sort out the problems in learning and to solve them through various techniques. This programme encouraged everyone to adopt new methods in their daily learning and schedule.
In order to amplify the spirit of the Year of Youth we provided them a chance to participate in a zonal level youth orientation programme. By this programme they were made aware of the goal of our motto ‘Together to be with the Lord’. In his Papal letter Pope Francis draws our attention to Jn 15:15 “I do not call you servants any longer, but I call you friends”. By the gift of this grace, ‘we are elevated in such a way that we truly become his friends’ (Christus Vivit 153). So in this Year of Youth all will move together to be with Jesus in prayer. The Young minds were also directed to the Word of God which we have selected for the Youth Year. Pope Francis rightly presents before us Jesus himself eternally young, wants to give us hearts that are ever young. God’s word asks us to ‘cast out the old leaven that you may be fresh dough”(1 Cor 5:7). St. Paul invites us to strip ourselves of the “old self” and put on a ‘young’ self (Col 3:12-13) (Christus Vivit 13). So we can say that the Word of God is the backbone strength of each youth in their Christian life.
All the parish priests and Youth animators were very much interested in the various programmes of youth formation and personal as well as spiritual nourishment of the youth and as a result, all the programs reached to the epitome of success. The youth themselves cherished personally the strong feeling of oneness towards faith in the spiritual realms of the church.