21/06/2012 08:32

Madang clergy and pastoral workers worried about imminent condom distribution in schools, want more to be done for the youth

By Fr Giorgio Licini, PIME - CBC Communications. Madang priests and pastoral workers stressed in a meeting on Tuesday, 19 June that youth deserve more attention and pastoral care. “Some are members of organized parish groups and ministries – said Fr. Joseph Durero SVD, parish priest at Yomba just outside Madang - but the majority of them are out of school and totally on their own, ready to become enemies of society if nobody does anything for them. But no one should be left out”. “They don’t ask for much, they just need to feel that we, their priests, care for them”, added Fr. Czeslaw Brzezicki SVD, Vicar General of the Archdiocese and parish priest of Alexishafen. On his hand Fr. Casimir Yakawa, Utu parish priest, acknowledged not being gifted with particular skills for the youth ministry, but he is happy that, “I love them and they love me”. Fr. Samuel Kabaya, parish priest of Megiar, instead, appealed to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference to expand the service of the National Youth Coordinator, Fr Shanthi Puthussery  PIME. He praised the outcome of the leadership training program offered by Fr Shanthi to the parish youth coordinators in Madang on May 20-27 this year, but he said that these opportunities should be opened up to a “larger number of youth who are just waiting for a word of encouragement and guidance”.

The gathering also expressed grave concern about the imminent plan of the government to ship boxes of condoms to all schools in the country as a means for HIV/AIDS control. Mrs. Josephine Ilave, diocesan HIV/AIDS awareness coordinator, reported an increase in the number of primary school children seeking HIV test in the diocesan sponsored centers. But the Madang pastoral workers believe parents awareness and guidance is key to children proper sexual behavior and HIV prevention, not indiscriminate distribution of condoms to students and staff.  A signature campaign among citizens and parents of school children has been proposed by diocesan Education Secretary, Mr. Bruno Tulemanil, to support the recent stand of the Catholic Bishops Conference against government condom distribution policies in schools.

(CBC Communications 200612 – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)