Synod on youth: Indians note that without young people the Church has no tomorrow
The opening Mass of the Synod was held in St Peter’s Square. Young Indians want young people to become more involved because they are responsible for the Church. The number of vocations is down, but young people helped out recent flood victims in Kerala.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Among the multitude taking part in the opening Mass of the Synod dedicated to young people in St Peter’s Square some were from India.
Speaking to AsiaNews, some said that the Church must listen more to young people, involve them in its initiatives, “rejuvenate” its leadership with younger blood, and support families in spiritually educating the new generations.
Some note that young people are active in Catholic associations, but others complain of a void in many Indian parishes where there is “little room for them".
Above all, the common denominator seems to be the inability to understand young people, their dreams and aspirations; at the same time, they stressed the need to accompany them in their journey of vocation, discernment and support of the faith.
The need to understand young people and guide them is the reason for Pope Francis to convene the synod.
However, the small number of youth delegates admitted to the meetings (36 from all countries vs 266 Church leaders) and their lack of vote have been a controversial issue in the past few days.
Sisters Joshna and Alekhya, members of the Congregation of St Mary Magdalene Postel, both from Andhra Pradesh, were in the crowd in St Peter’s Square. They told AsiaNews that there is a visible drop in vocations in India. To counter this, their community holds weekly meetings with parish catechists after Sunday services.
Both believe that the Church "must make young people rediscover the beauty of faith, prayer, and inspire them to work in society and with the poor". However, they acknowledge that they are not tasked with meeting young people, catechists are.
Later we met Ranjith Kumar Pentareddy, a deacon with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), from Hyderabad.
He was in St Peter’s with his uncle Vijay Kumar Duppimpudi, who said: "In most of the parishes there are no initiatives dedicated to young people. Few participate in events."
Without youth, Ranjith noted, "the Church does not exist. It is our task to attract them and involve them more with the leadership. They must feel that they are responsible for the Church."
Young people "should not be afraid to profess their faith, despite the tensions triggered by Hindu nationalists".
According to Vijay, "we must also rejuvenate the leadership and start again with the spiritual education given to families".
Speaking of responsibility, various people from Kerala came with different experiences, people like Fr Varghese Pirul, of the diocese of Arnakulam, and Fr Jimmichan, secretary of the Syro-Malabar Church.
In their state, youth are "very active at the level of associations and movements, like the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement, Siro-Malabar Youth Movement, Christian Life Charities, and the Catholic Mission League. They meet once a week and carry out various tasks. During the recent floods they handed out basic necessities, helping people in need."
All of them are young, Fr Varghese said. They "have goals in life, want to study, work and establish themselves".