3. CATHOLIC YOUTH GROUPS AND ADULT YOUTH ANIMATORS
They answered,”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your family.”Then they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.At that very hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds;and he and all his family were baptized at once.Then he took Paul and Silas up into his house and gave them some food to eat.He and his family were filled with joy,because they now believed in God. (Acts 16, 31 – 34).
The salvation of Christ touches every member of the Catholic family, parents as well as the youth and children. Family prayer and Bible sharing is vital for the faith of the young at home. Also parents need to give their youth more support and motivation in parish life. The Diocese of Tzaneen Youth Manual needs to be used by all involved with the formation of youth groups for our young Catholics.There is a great need for parishes to identify mature and committed adults who will willingly and gladly help animate the youth – chosen by the youth and acceptable to the parish priest. The animator must be a person of faith with adequate knowledge of the Catholic teachings; a person of integrity, maturity and conviction, sensitive to the cries and longings of young people, and capable of responding to them. There needs to be more involvement of youth in church activities and in parish projects and ministries. The absence of many young people in parish life and ministries cannot be accepted as normal in a healthy parish life. A specific Sunday every month should be focused on the formation of the youth and their participation in worship. Education for Life programme should be linked with parish youth ministry. Youth need to be recruited into choir and other ministries such as children’s ministry. Also the young adults can be linked with Catholic university students. The parish leadership (priests and Parish Pastoral Council executive) should ensure that the youth are properly organised in their parishes according to the guidelines given in the diocesan Youth Manual. The youth group annual programme should be evaluated to ensure it is in accordance with the mind and Spirit of Christ and his Church and should include a parish spiritual retreat for the youth.
As I said on the subject of young people in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini: “Youth is a time when genuine and irrepressible questions arise about the meaning of life and the direction our own lives should take.Only God can give the true answer to these questions.Concern for young people calls for courage and clarity in the message we proclaim;we need to help young people to gain confidence and familiarity with Sacred Scripture so it can become a compass pointing out the path to follow.Young people need witnesses and teachers who can walk with them, teaching them to love the Gospel and to share it,especially with their peers,and thus to become authentic and credible messangers. (Africae Munus, 61).