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GC35 looks at youth ministry

gc35_groups_01.jpgFor what seems to be the first time in the history of Jesuit General Congregations, apostolic activities for youth was the subject of discussion at the plenary sessions on 1-2 February. According to a report from the Press Office in Rome, the Congregation had been asked to focus on “the importance of youth in our faith and justice mission, to direct more of the Society’s apostolate toward youth, and to emphasize the characteristics of youth ministry in today’s context”. The commission appointed to consider this issue reported on their progress. They sought to identify the characteristics of youth, though their description was “occasionally contested” during the discussion.

Summary of the commission’s report:

1. THE MAIN POINTS

The main points were as follows:

• ‘Youth’ extends beyond the traditional limits of juvenile age.
• In many countries the traditional family structure is under heavy pressure.
• The young look for guidance which is often not available from parents and teachers. Peers often assume that role.
• Schools are more interested in providing skills than integral formation.
• Young people are very critical of the Church; however, in some parts of the world a movement of “back to the Church” is visible.
• The language of youth (both verbal and visual) is not easily understood by many Jesuits.
• Young people are looking for experiences more than instructions.

2. OUR RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGES

• Christ should be presented as liberating us from servitude to prevailing customs and consumerism.
• New apostolic ventures (centers, networking, accompaniment) should be encouraged and supported.
• Collaboration with world-wide movements in the Church and in diocesan programs is desirable
• The Society’s engagement in educational, social and pastoral apostolates has the potential to help young people.

3. SUGGESTIONS

• To establish a Youth secretariat in the Curia
• To create a group of experts to study the problem
• To announce a Jesuit Year for Youth