SA Church Youth Leaders Meet in May on “Christus Vivit”
Youth chaplains and coordinators will meet in Mariannhill in May to discuss Pope Francis’ new document on the youth.
The conference on the pope’s apostolic exhortation Christus vivit (“Christ Lives”), which was released this month, will be at Trefontane retreat house in Mariannhill from May 20-23.
Presentations will be held on the final document of last year’s Synod of Bishops on the Youth and the apostolic exhortation, which is the pope’s reflection and recommendations on the deliberations of the synod.
Fr Mthembeni Dlamini CMM, the national youth chaplain for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that Christus vivit will require time, discussion and studying.
He warned that unless there are strong and vibrant youth ministries in parishes, implementation of the document will be difficult.
Christus vivit touches not only on what was said during the synod on the theme of young people, the faith and vocational discernment, but also what the youth said during a pre-synod gathering that took place in Rome in March 2018.
“You cannot understand the exhortation unless you’ve read the final document on the synod of bishops, because that lays the foundation in terms of what the bishops discussed and what they saw as a need for the young people,” Fr Dlamini said.
At the May conference, presentations will be made on the final document and exhortation, and there will be discussions on how the youth ministry in the bishops’ conference region can be helped to grow.
Implementing at a Parish Level
“We will start off with discussions on the final document which will lay the foundation and give perspective on the exhortation, and then go more in-depth on [Christus vivit] because it gives practical points on how we can respond to young people and ways of how we can apply the exhortation,” Fr Dlamini explained.
“These documents need implementation and the SACBC doesn’t have much influence when it comes to what’s going to happen at the parish. We influence the dioceses, but sometimes they don’t engage much with us at the SACBC, which creates more difficulty in terms of the young people, as the parish is where they are,” Fr Dlamini said.
The youth chaplain hopes that the diocesan structures will implement the document on the parish level so that the pastors, parish councils and adult parishioners are aware of what needs to be done for young people.
“We can’t just throw a document at the young people and say, ‘This is for you; read it’. We have to journey with them in terms of implementation because we have to be a part of it, as adults, as clergy, as religious, as parents,” he said.
Christus vivit, which is presented as a letter to young people, concludes with “a wish” from Pope Francis: “Dear young people, my joyful hope is to see you keep running the race before you, outstripping all those who are slow or fearful.”
The pope continued: “Keep running, attracted by the face of Christ, whom we love so much, whom we adore in the Holy Eucharist and acknowledge in the flesh of our suffering brothers and sisters. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith…
“And when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us.”
Fr Dlamini noted that “young people want to participate in the life of the Church”.
“Many dioceses don’t have young people representing the youth on parish councils, they have adults,” he said.
“The Church should not be afraid to engage young people in all activities and allow them to take a leading role.”
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