From The Office of Youth Ministry
On Sunday, November 21, the youth of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain came together, online as well as in-person, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando, to celebrate World Youth Day (WYD) at a local level as outlined by Vatican guidelines released in May 2021.
Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most beautiful ecclesial moments of the entire liturgical year, as Archbishop Jason Gordon met our youth in a joyful celebration.
Following the last Feast of Christ the King celebration, Pope Francis championed the movement of the diocesan WYD celebrations, traditionally held on Palm Sunday, to now take place on the Feasts of Christ the King, as he believes that the “centre of the celebration remains the Mystery of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the World, as Saint John Paul II, the initiator and patron of WYD, always emphasised”.
In keeping with these sentiments, the Office of Youth Ministry (OYM) wanted to facilitate a WYD experience for youth given the current climate, and indeed they did.
Not only did the youth of the Archdiocese experience a joyful festival of faith but were also able to experience a sense of Pilgrimage and Church, two core testimonial experiences of an authentic WYD celebration that has suffered since the start of the pandemic.
Truly what a blessing it is to witness the young Church embrace a communal identity, further discerning their calls to holiness, readying themselves for their mission of being a Church of universal fraternity.
One of the most noteworthy statements to come out of the Vatican this year is that “to invest in young people is to invest in the future of the Church” (§7 Pastoral Guidelines for the Celebration of World Youth Day in the Particular Churches).
So, to all reading, the time for action is now! We must urgently expand our view of the Church to better incorporate our young people, not simply as inclusivity tokens, but by recognising their inherent worth through their virtue of being made in the image and likeness of Christ. Their enthusiasm, talents, and ideas yearn to be expressed and facilitated in the Church that they love so dearly.
If this WYD celebration is any indicator, we have a Church ripe with fruit. We must give them a chance to produce and reap this fruit so that we may all enjoy it together, as Christian sisters and brothers in communion with one another.
To quote Pope Francis, young people “are the now of God” (§178, Christus Vivit). Our young people are ready to stand up and share their voices! They have been ready, for so long, to arise and be whom God calls them to be.
Akin to the calls of the Vatican, we need to invest in our youth, not just financially, but in a holistic, accompanying way that allows them to grow freely yet faithfully according to gospel values.
For too long, our young people have had an experience of Church that excludes them, or at best, includes them conveniently, especially when Zoom numbers need to be bumped up, or when extra labour is required for an event.
During this synodal process, it is time for us to listen to our youth, embracing their voices, passions, talents, and dedication. We simply cannot afford to exclude them any longer. We are one Church and are all called to share this journey.
There’s no need to be afraid of youth involvement in our Church. How else can they learn from us? Additionally, how else can we learn from them, particularly if we’re not willing to entrust the Church to them?
It is imperative we continue to encourage this proliferation of thought-provoking dialogue on youth involvement in the Archdiocese as we as Church continuously reflect on transcending the conventional norms of our Church. Christ is certainly alive in our youth. Now is the time for us to encounter Christ in them, as they encounter Christ in us.
Do not fall prey to the doubts that young people do not make up a fundamental part of our Church; now is the time to reconsider.
Without young people, there is no Church.