Young Canadians were in abundance at World Youth Day in Panama in January. This group proudly let their nationality be known as they waited for Mass to begin along with half a million other WYD pilgrims. Jean Ko Din

Speaking Out: Goodbye 2019 ... hello 2020

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • December 26, 2019

The year is about to end and as we begin to sit down and think about our New Year’s resolution we can recall and reflect over the events of the past year to help guide us along. 

And there’s a lot to reflect on — from World Youth Day that kicked off the year in Panama, to the Pope’s letter in March, Christus Vivit, that followed the 2018 Synod on Young People in March, to the youth movement on climate change. All have sparked some interesting conversations.

There have always been reservations from people of authority or even from older generations when it comes to listening to the voice of the youth. Being that they are young, lacking in experience, and very impressionable with high chance of changing their minds, it seems very hard to listen to these developing minds. 

But the voice of the youth must be listened to and, in turn, the youth must also listen. If there are changes to be done the older generation must realize that this rapidly growing population is sensitive to change. But the youth must also realize there are things that do not need to change. 

The requests of youth during the synod will not change Church law,  but they did emphasize a historic lack of basic understanding by Church heirarchy towards the needs of this demographic.

The youth have requested more programs that will appeal to young Catholics, more positions for youth within parishes and better role models — just to name a few of the recommendations. They all point to a simple desire of wanting to belong.

This synod made an impression within the community of bishops and was expressed in their letter addressed to the young people, published on the final day of the October 2018 synod: “We are familiar with your inner searching, the joys and hopes, the pain and anguish that make up your longings. Now we want you to hear a word from us: we wish to be sharers in your joy, so that your expectations may come to life. ”

This simple statement gives hope that the youth are not forgotten. And the intentions of the bishops have been followed through. Slowly, but surely, the presence of youth is being felt.

In my parish, a young adult group has been formed after a long absence. Youth groups are having more and more events calling the youth to be present in their faith.  Social media presence of youth ministries are more prevalent. There is a strong focus on calling and empowering youth.

Indeed, through history, youth have been impossible to ignore. Look at 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai who, at age 17 in 2014, won the Nobel Peace Prize after creating waves in Pakistan and around the world in her fight for a women’s right to have an education. Or 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has ignited the recent climate strikes. These teens rattled authorities and made history. World Youth Day in January was yet another strong statement, with Catholic youth from 156 countries rallying around the Church and its promise for a new generation.

We need to be listened to. And we need someone to guide us in making the right decisions. The next step after reading Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’ 2019 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, is to fully realize these goals within our communities.

This requires help from everyone within our community: rectors, parish priests, lay pastoral associates, youth ministers, parishioners, school teachers. There is knowledge and history in older generations that the youth has yet to experience.

So, listen to us, and we’ll return the favour.

Help us channel all this energy and passion into something constructive for the betterment of the Church. We need the Church as much as it needs us. The youth is an energy source that could make ideas and movements work. So, listen. 

If we were to have a New Year’s resolution, let it be that we listen to each other — carefully and intently.

(Ducepec, 22, is a Bachelor of Science undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Anthropology.)

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