Monday, 25 January 2010

The youth of our parish

Fr Nelson announced that Bosco Samachar will be out for Don Bosco's feast. Soon after, Rita approached me for an article for our youth. I am not writing for our youth, but about our youth.

My impression about the youth of our parish is that they are youthful as well as quite orthodox.

They are quite orthodox, but that does not mean that they do not need a great deal of catechesis. They love Our Lady, for example, but one of them was shocked to realize that Our Lady is not worshipped, and that she is not God. Another was quite disturbed when one of the priests seemed to present different ideas about pre-marital sex and marriage outside the faith, and found a quote from the New Testament to the effect, Do not be mismatched with unbelievers; but perhaps needs to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church at some depth.

But orthodoxy of this kind does not prevent our youth from being youthful! They are up to all kinds of (mostly innnocent) mischief. Punctuality for meetings, order, hard work, reliability, efficiency - these are virtues yet to be discovered. (I have begun thinking that we have to train our brothers to tolerate lack of punctuality: I find my long years of formation to punctuality quite a disadvantage when I have to patiently wait for our youth to turn up for meetings, for practices, for work.)

It is not quite true to say that our youth do not come for mass; they do come for mass, most of them, though some tend to come just a little late, and then again, they might be found busy doing up the old man and walking quite late into the New Year's Mass. Then again, not many parishioners might know that several of them go quite often and quite willingly to take part in the charismatic retreats organized by a certain Auntie Maxie at Bhagur; there they listen to the talks, pray, go for counselling, and even for confessions.

But of course when I write like this, I am the prisoner of a picture. When I look closely, I find I am describing five or at the most ten of our youth - the ones who usually grab attention, the ones who are centre stage most of the time. There are several others who might not fit the 'mischievous' description. But these also have the common need of a good catechesis.

Then there are some who come for occasions and events, and there are others who just do not come to the youth group or even to the events. This is something that happens in all parishes, and ours is no exception. I guess we will have to find time to visit them in their homes or wherever. Bishop Valerian D'Souza used to say that if some youth do not / are not able to come to the church, then the church must go to them. In our parish we do not have too many young people working as domestic help, but this would be a category of youth that we must seriously look at.

But the great need, as I have been trying to say, is catechesis. Vital, important, interesting catechesis for youth. We have been doing a moment of lectio divina, reading of the Scriptures, at the start of every youth meeting, and that is already good. But we do need to get into an organic catechesis. So this is another thing that Salesians and religious and seminarians need to prepare themselves well for!

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