Catholic National Youth Coordinator PNG PARTICIPATION IN WYD TO BE REVISED
By Fr Giorgio Licini PIME
Fr. Shanthi Puthussery, the participation of PNG youth into World Youth Day practically started with the Sydney edition in 2008 coordinated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Then a few also went to Madrid, Spain in 2011. As Catholic Youth Coordinator since last year, how do you think things went in those occasions?
For many of the participants it was indeed a meaningful experience especially at the level of their spiritual life and as a journey of faith. But there were certainly some weaknesses. Some dioceses didn’t really select and prepare the youth well in 2008. When these came back many of them were no-where to be seen in parishes, Catholic schools or youth groups. In 2011 everything was left to personal initiative. Again, some individuals and groups went without any coordination with the parish and the diocese. In turn some dioceses only sent a few adults or members of the clergy, but no youth.
How do you think these issues can be addressed?
The formation, preparation and selection of active and motivated youth are the first steps. WYD is a pilgrimage of faith for those who are already involved in the life of the local Church and in a personal spiritual journey. In 2011 participation in WYD in Spain was sponsored in some areas by mining companies without any coordination with the diocese. But Papua New Guinea is a third world country. Funds should be directed first to health, education and development. If a diocese wants to send someone to WYD in Brazil they should select really young people, regularly connected to a parish, catholic school or youth group and willing to contribute some service to the community after the event.
As National Youth coordinator what are you promoting in this regard?
I believe that the material we have disseminated to all Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Catholic Youth Groups through the booklet Doing by Learning – Learning by Doing, will allow the young people to start reading the Scripture, especially the Gospel of Matthew, have an introduction to the Eucharist and how it transforms one's life, discover the history of their parish since the time it was established by the missionaries (practical assignment). The other booklet Transmission of Faith, on the current obstacles to Christian teaching from one generation to the next, is meant for our apostolate of the laity, but it perfectly applies to the youth as well.
Do you think that some PNG Catholic Youth will be ready for WYD in Rio de Janeiro next year?
It all depends on them and those who take care of their preparation. While I was in Rome last month Cardinal Rylko was advising me to work on a two-three year pastoral journey before taking any youth to World Youth Day. So, I am rather looking at the next edition in 2015 or 2016.