We the Synod Fathers now address you, young people of the world, with a word of hope, trust and consolation. In these days, we have gathered together to hear the voice of Jesus, “the eternally young Christ”, and to recognize in Him your many voices, your shouts of exultation, your cries, and your moments of silence.
In this interview [part two] with Fr. Louis Bira, sx, in view of the coming synod of bishops in October, Grace Bella-Kamara, a Student of the University of Makeni (Unimak,) expresses her opinion on gender equality, new born again churches, church leader behaviour…
Fr. Louis Bira sx (LB): You are a female student in a male dominated country. Do you feel discriminated in your university [University of Makeni- UNIMAK, a catholic university] because you are a girl? How can the Catholic Church address the issue of gender inequality?
In May, a meeting was held in Rome, organized by the Union of General Superiors (UGS) of all catholic religious congregations. The main topic was about Youth as a preparation to the coming Synod of bishops in October. Our General superior, Fr. Fernando Gracia, sx attended the meeting. Here are some useful data he retained from the talk of Prof. Mesa on the topic: “The Youth in the intercultural world of today”.
In this in this interview with Fr. Louis Bira sx, towards the coming synod of bishops, Sr. Magdalene Philip Umoh, the University Chaplain of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK)- a catholic university of the diocese of Makeni/ Sierra Leone shares with us what she considers being the challenges shaping the young generation, “the digital natives”. She shows herself as “female happy and proud” to work in a ‘male-dominated’ country and institution.
Ordained priest 50 years ago (1968), Fr. Victor Bongiovanni, a xaverian missionary has been working in Sierra Leone for 41 years. In this interview, he shares his missionary experience, describing it as “a walking along in life”, a ministry of “accompanying and accompanied by Youth”.
In view of the ongoing synod of catholic bishops in Roma, the African Study Center of the Xaverian Missionaries decided to consecrate the n°11 of his magazine on the topic of “Youth Ministry”. In this way, we wanted to journey together with the Catholic Church and the Youth.
Below is the summary prepared by Fr. Barthelemy Minani, a Xaverian missionary working in Mozambique.
Grace Bella-Kamara is a final year Law Student of the University of Makeni (Unimak). She is believed to be a passionate about African Development and the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this interview with Fr. Louis Bira, sx, in view of the coming synod of bishops in October, she gives her opinion about the current situation of the youth and describes her experience as a female student of the Unimak.
Pope Benedict XVI says that “Young people should be loved, esteemed and respected. Whatever their possible ambiguities, they have a profound longing for those genuine values which find their fullness in Christ.” In rural areas, the youth are always there, waiting for someone who can give them hope and help them to get rid of their multiple problems among others: lack of education, unemployment, teenage pregnancy, drugs, the weight of the culture etc. They need to be helped spiritually as well as materially. They need somebody who can look at them like Jesus in the Gospel according to Mark: “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things” (Mk 6:34).
Sr. Magdalene Philip Umoh was born in Nigeria. She belongs to the congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame commonly known by the abbreviation SSND. Since 2013, she has been missioning in Sierra Leone. She currently works at the University of Makeni (UNIMAK)- a catholic university of the diocese of Makeni/ Sierra Leone- as the University Chaplain as well as a chemistry research assistant. Towards the coming synod of bishops, in this interview with Fr. Louis Bira sx, she shares with us her youth ministry experience. For her, the coming synod is timely and appropriate!
Fr. Louis Bira (LB): Since 2015 October, you are the catholic chaplain of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK). Your service includes Youth Ministry. How do you welcome the decision of Pope Francis to call for a Synod of Catholic Bishops on Young people, the Faith and Vocational Discernment?
Sr. Magdalene Philip Umoh (MPU): The Pope’s call for the synod on young people is quiet timely and appropriate because young people are overwhelmed with the influx of unfiltered information which has become detrimental to their personal, religious and moral integrity. This will, in a way, build relationships and togetherness among the young. In addition, it will give a sense of belonging to the Christian faith community as well as remolding and reshaping the world view of the young people in light of the gospel values. Again, I am foreseeing this call as a way of re-creating mentorship and guidance for the young especially those sitting on the hedge of life confused, disappointed and abandoned.