Year of Youth

A story is told that a gypsy came upon a well with his son and rested beside it after a long journey. He felt very thirsty and quenched his thirst from the water of the well. After sometime, he examined the well and wanted to see how deep it was so he looked deep down. Meanwhile his son got curious and asked: “Dad, what do you see?”
“I see God inside the well!” the father confirmed.
In excitement, the son cried out: “I want to see God!”
The big, strong gypsy helped his son look deep down the well. But his son only saw his reflection and mumbled: “But that’s me!” And his Dad quipped: “Now you know where to find God.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) launched last December 16 the “Year of Youth” dedicating 2011 to promoting Youth Ministry. In spearheading this move the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) Chairman and Legaspi Bishop Joel Baylon gave this encouragement: “Let us work together to intensify awareness about the youth and their importance to the life and activity of the Church. By our own witness, let us help the young in our midst to find God in their lives and generously answer His call to service and love.” Thus this year is an opportune moment to let young people realize what Jesus said in scripture: “the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17:21).
Incidentally, this coincides with the International Year of Youth declared by the United Nations with the theme: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the world “to harness the talents, energy of the world of young people to promote better understanding and dialogue between different generations, cultures and religions.” The UN estimates 1.2 billion people worldwide between 15-24 years old. Hence the world’s youth account for about 18 percent of the world’s population most of which are found in developing countries.
The first International Year of Youth proclaimed by the United Nations was 25 years ago in 1985. In response to it, John Paul II invited youths all over the world to come to Rome on 31 March 1985,  Palm Sunday. An enthusiastic crowd of about 250,000 youths flooded St. Peter’s Square. On that occasion the Pope delivered the Apostolic Letter “Dilecti Amici” which became the founding document of World Youth Day. Here the still young and energetic John Paul II described the youth as “a special treasure of both Church and society.”
Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, then president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum recalled that on Easter Sunday, during a televised broadcast of the Liturgy in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II said in his homily: “I met last Sunday with hundreds of thousands of young people, and I have imprinted on my soul the festive image of their enthusiasm. I am hoping that this wonderful experience might be repeated in future years, giving origin to the World Youth Day on Palm Sunday.” So began the celebration of World Youth Day which celebrated the importance and appreciation of the gift of young people.
Young people are indeed a “special treasure.” For this reason, it is of great need that they “stand firm in faith.” Like the episode of the crippled beggar in Acts 3:1-10 whom Peter healed., the young man’s feet and ankle became firm. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Such is an icon of an effective Youth Ministry: young people able to stand on their own in whatever situations they will find themselves – personally, in the family, in their career, in politics even in making a difference in society.
It is my ardent prayer and wish that young people in the Philippines, in this Year of Youth, grow up in these 3 areas of their lives:  passionate faith, use of freedom and concern for the future.
I pray that our young people will acquire a passionate faith. Such faith can make them move mountains, change hearts, transform society and bring progress and prosperity for our country.
I pray that they learn to use their freedom for the greater good instead of just using it for their own selfish ends. Such right use of freedom will help them love God generously.
I pray that our young people may have a strong concern for the future. Such concern will lead them to take initiatives in building a better world and rouse them to be competent steward of the environment.
This prayer also includes our new Archbishop of Cebu, Jose Palma who will lead us to minister to our young people so that they too can participate in the life and mission of the Church.
Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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