WE JOURNEY TOGETHER: WITH THE CHURCH AND THE 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.
Africa is considered a young continent because more than 50% of its population is less than 40 years old. Most of the young Africans are unemployed; they do not have any perspective for their future. Since they have no hope, they take a perilous trip to Europe thinking that exile is better than life in their own African countries. Unfortunately, most of them will never arrive. Those who would not be tortured and become slaves in Libya, would die in the Mediterranean Sea; closing up a short story that they had just stated to write. The very few who manage to reach Europe are so badly welcomed that they realize that hell was prepared for them in Europe, not in Africa. In Africa, during this year dedicated to the youth, we are wondering “how are we going to give back hope to the young African people?” Are we going to discourage or encourage them to run away from countries with no future? What should the Church do to help youth get out of so much uncertainty, illusion, and confusion? The Church relies on Tradition while the youth like novelty and changes, what are we going to do in order to reconcile these two contradictory trends? Should we say that those who have left their countries have lost their identity? If we had to characterize today’s youth, we would say that they are changing; they are on the move, and ready to discover new realities at all costs. Paul Ricoeur distinguishes « sameness » from « selfness », thus the identity of a human being is not limited only to what does not change. The stability of identity ensures the recognition of a changing human being. In identity we have both what does not change (idem) and what can grow and become other, singular (ipse). My identity is both what makes me remain the same; what makes me be myself and not anyone else, and what makes me different from other people (singularity). Indeed, though I am the same, I am not like I was ten years ago and I will not look the same in twenty years. Transformations and evolutions occur in my personality. What is the personality of the Church and of the youth in this third millennium? Before the Synod dedicated to the youth, the Catholic Church ought to know that she is not only a mother (mater) and a teacher (magistra), in the sense that she has to give birth and to educate the youth. She is also a disciple (discipula) since she needs to learn a lot from the young generations in evolution and in a completely new and different world. On the one hand, instead of striving to stop youth’s movements, the Church must develop initiatives in order to keep up with their realities. On the other hand young people have to slow down their movement to wait for the Church and get affirmation from her. In order to be in harmony with the world in evolution (the youth), Chantal Faida duly proposes six guidelines to the Catholic Church. She thinks that the Church should be open to today’s novelties. Fr Bongiovanni (77 years old) also wishes that the Church take the lead in preparing, from now on, young people to become enlightened Church leaders of tomorrow. To ensure the future of the Church, we need to give responsibilities to young people in Church Ministries. They should be given the possibility of taking some central decisions instead of keeping them only in a dependent position. Fr Louis Bira prefers to open up Ministry tasks to all youth in their complexity and capacities, not only to political leadership and ecclesial hierarchy. Fr Barthelemy Minani insists on helping the Church to have worthy heirs through faith revival and vocation animation for youth. Fr Faustino Turco advocates wise and enlightened vocation discernment, as the best way for youth to enter consecrated life since God’s Spirit works through limited and fragile human beings. Blaise Zirimwabagabo and Francine Mapendo, a married couple, remind us of the importance of promoting priestly vocations without leaving aside vocation to marriage life. Indeed, married people constitute more than 80% of Church members. It is surprising to see that the Church spends more than ten years to educate a priest while she gives only some weeks to prepare a couple for matrimonial life. This is why, Jean Damascene demands to reinforce marriage Ministry in showing, on the one hand the beauty of sexuality and the import of true love that has nothing to do with sexual impulses on the other hand. The vocation of young people comes from meaningful encounters with the people whom God places on their way to sensitize and guide them. Innocent Munandi tells us his experience and meeting with late Fr Sartorio and some prisoners in Goma central prison. Fr Gabriel Basuzwa helps us understand that educators ought to make of youngsters “the salt and the light of the earth” in walking with them step by step. Speaking about religious and missionary charism, Aimé Nshole says that the Xaverians should be involved in various capacities and regions of the world in order to attract youth. They must go out (Ad extra) for good (Ad vitam) to every country of the world (Ad gentes). This Synod may revive the Church and encourage African youth to combat disgraceful mediocrity and develop the culture of excellence to bring about a new African realism. NB: The whole text of the magazine in French is to be fund here: htt//MissionariSaveriani.org/dg. Fr. Barthelemy Minani Sx