PNG Catholic Youth Coordinators strengthen commitment
By Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME
GOROKA, 19 Nov. 2012. About 20 youth diocesan coordinators from around Papua New Guinea opened their gathering (Nov. 19-25) today at the Kefamo Conference Centre, Goroka to assess the progress of the youth ministry during the year 2012. The reports focused on the outcome of the dissemination and study of the booklet Doing by Learning, Learning by Doing by National Catholic Youth Coordinator Fr. Shanthi Puthussery.
In his opening remarks Deputy Bishop for Youth Rochus Tatamai, MSC of Bereina focused on the fact that the present phase and strategy of youth ministry needs to go ahead because not much is being done in the dioceses for the young people. The focus is on catechesis, personal faith, prayer and responsible behaviour.
Youth leaders stressed the importance and the hardships of implementing a comprehensive youth program among dozens of parish substations and youth groups in each diocese. Cooperation with parish priests and bishops is also registering ups and downs. The central youth office is only focused on offering basic materials and guidelines, while it is for the local dioceses and parishes to organize their own strategy and adjust the materials to their own situation and vernacular languages. A number of young people in the rural areas are poorly educated, while the lack of means of communication and transportation hampers the gathering, the activities and formation of young people.
Diocesan youth coordinators are also concerned about defining their priorities and duties not exactly in the form of a job description, but as general guidelines including coordination with local and national entities. The youth ministry is basically parish based, but without neglecting schools, prisons, cooperation with other Christian denominations and any opportunity or place where young people live.
“It is crucial that seminarians and deacons get involved in youth groups as part of their training for their future pastoral ministry and life with the people”, National Secretary Fr. Shanthi told the participants, inviting them to open the doors of their groups to those young people that are going to be future priests and religious.
Youth leaders realize that they do not need “to do everything” themselves, but only “give a chance” to fellow young people and inspire them into action, service and spiritual life.