03/10/2012 07:54

PNG LOST GENERATION. Gospel against sex, alcohol and marijuana

By Fr Shanthi Puthussery PIME
National Catholic Youth Coordinator

What was your experience with the youth at Kavieng regarding prayer and faith at the end of their leadership training program on Sept. 16-23?
It was a terribly struggle! I found the Kavieng youth particularly in trouble with prayer life and faith practices. It’s seems like if they grew up without any prayer life. They struggled to make a good confession. The participation in the inner healing prayer was superficial and the liturgical and meditation sessions were just a routine. Although I was continuously helping them with tips and techniques attached to the program, they could not just rise up to a minimal level.
A number of them have finished Grade 12, but they could not make a spontaneous prayer of the faithful during the Mass. During the morning hour of meditation, a few could literally repeat passages of the Gospel but no more than that. Edwin Paijah of Namatanai parish said, "in my life this was the first time I read the Bible myself and tried to say share a reflection publicly in a group". "I do not think that I ever prayed in my life other than attending the Church services because at home we do not have any prayer", said Cassian Maris of Mapua parish. Moreen

From what you say, it looks like if families and parishes do not exist for these young people.

Almost everybody said that other than the Holy Mass or the Service without a priest, no other activities or formation programs are taking place in the parishes. They expressed the wish that the parishes should organize study programs of prayer, meditation, Scripture, Sacraments, Catechism of the Catholic Church and few teachings of history and biography of the saints.
Emil Arumes of Karu parish complained that "we are not taught or educated how to pray and what to pray. We just pray when we are desperately in need, but it may not be a prayer, but a request." Otto Pansipik of Anir parish did his Grade 12 but he felt that "nobody instructed me how to read and pray the Bible and I never did it by myself. Actually I do not know really what is prayer and faith".

How is their actual Catholic life then?
One of the boys was saying, "From my Grade 8 onwards, I began having sex with girls. I cannot tell how many, at least a dozen. Also at the same time I began to take jungle juice, smoke marijuana and watch pornographic materials. Now I am 21 and I feel that have already tried everything in life". Several young people shared with me similar experiences at Kavieng, but it’s the same think everywhere. It just makes me wonder what youth ministry may be actually be in Papua New Guinea.

What’s your answer to the question?

The Catholic Church is coming up with the Year of Faith (Oct. 2012 – Nov. 2013), but in the context of Papua New Guinea we need to accompany it with social action and transformation of society. A large number of young people, aged fifteen to twenty, are already corrupted and almost destroyed by disorderly sexual relationships, alcohol, jungle juice, marijuana and pornography. I am not sure how much aware are the authorities in this country of the seriousness of these issues, but as Catholic Church I feel that we need to be very responsible in our integral formation activities for the young people in every parish. Otherwise, faith practices and ordinary life will just be running parallel creating more vacuum in society and personal relationships. Justin Manguri of Lamasong parish is just doubtful that youth are “going to take our teachings seriously in order to change their lives” when it has already become so difficult for them! “It looks like if we are in a chaos", he says. (G.L.)