08/18/2005, 00.00
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Georgian youth at WYD but back home, their situation is deteriorating

Even youth from Georgia have made it for the big event in Cologne but back home, their situation is difficult. Work is hard to find and their future prospects prompt them to seek refuge abroad or in drugs.

 T'bilisi (AsiaNews) – Even the Catholic community of Georgia has sent representatives to Germany to celebrate World Youth Day. The country's  apostolic administrator, Mgr Giuseppe Casotto, told AsiaNews that throughout the year a Commission was set up to manage preparations for youth in parishes, sending them material for catechism.

The youth who went for WYD spent three days together to better prepare themselves through meditation, hymns and technical instructions. The choir of the Cathedral is among those there in Cologne, composed of 26 girls aged between 17 and 25 years who were spent specifically from the diocese of Fulda. Throughout the journey, the choir gave four scheduled concerts (of Georgian and Gregorian music) in Italy and in Germany. Among participants for the WYD, there are also 40 youth linked to the Neo-Catechumen walk.

The youth who remained behind in Georgia have been invited to gather in a retreat house on Saturday and Sunday, when the meeting with the pope will be under way. There, in joy and prayer, they will follow the activity on a large screen, sleep in the open air and try to be like their luckier peers who left to be present at the great event. There will be teachings from the bishop, Mass, adoration and a party.

Mgr Pasotto explained that youth ministry in Georgia is conducted at local level in parishes and it is also animated by a "youth council" of members elected by their peers from parishes. The council draws up an annual program and goes to parishes to animate them. The council has a two-year term and changes during the "youth forum" which is held according to a specific theme each year in the week before Youth Day (Palm Sunday).

However, pastoral ministry in Georgia is far from easy. Youth are often discouraged as work opportunities are lacking in the country and future prospects are poor: one outcome of such a situation is an increase in those who are tempted to try the world of drugs and alcohol. Many youth see that their only chances lie in escaping abroad and many (usually the best) leave, thus impoverishing their communities. Catechism themes usually attempt to make the Gospel real in this painful situation. Many youth are taken up with voluntary work.

The Orthodox context makes the spiritual journey of youth tiring: they certainly do not find an environment conducive to school, work and friendship, enabling them to live out Catholic Church life. In any case, collaboration between Catholics and Orthodox is a much sought-after priority.

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