We have solemnly inaugurated the Year of Youth at the diocesan level on 6 January 2019 during the Annual Eucharistic Procession and at the parish level on 13 January. Psalm 127 says: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate”. Young men and women are the children of the Mother Church that she acquired through Christ. It is now the task of every minister of Christ to accompany our young men and women on their life’s journey. The representatives of the Youth Associations and the various committees of the Diocesan Pastoral Council have suggested a few programmes which could be conducted throughout the year in order to empower our young brethren. We shall publish the list soon in the Diocesan Weekly, Raknno. I warmly encourage the Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful to be deeply interested in the youth, seek them wholeheartedly, deal with them with fatherly and motherly tenderness and dedicate the time and energy for their well-being. Kindly spur them on to implement the programmes at the parish, deanery and diocesan level. I cordially invite the Parish Priests to encourage the youth to appoint a youth leader for every ward and thus get in touch with each and every one, and then appoint a main coordinator at the parish level.

One of the requests placed before me by the youth representatives is to make space for them during the Sunday Mass. The youth can conduct the liturgy of the First Sunday every month and the whole parish pray for their intentions. A list of intentions connected with the youth will also be published for the purpose. Our primary task is to become evangelizers and missionaries of Christ. To equip the youth for the purpose, they should be encouraged to buy a copy of the You Cat (Youth Catechism) which is already available in English and soon going to be published also in Konkani. Thus, they will have ready material to deepen their knowledge of faith and they will be well-equipped to make a defense to anyone who asks them for a reason for the hope that is in them and they would be able to do it with gentleness and respect (cf. 1 Pet 3: 15).

In this context, the youth should be inspired to organize an hour of adoration on Friday evening with thanks and praise, with hymns and chants. They can also use the Taizé prayer to have an encounter with Christ in Song and silent meditation. Holy Father Francis has asked us to pray every day, after the Rosary, the prayer to Mary, Mother of God, popularly known as Sub tuum praesidium (Under Your Protection): “We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God. Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers O glorious and blessed Virgin”. He has also invited us to pray to St Michael, who is captain of the heavenly hosts so that the Church be protected from the insidious attacks of the Evil one: “St Michael the Archangel, Defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, By the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, And all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world Seeking the ruin of souls. Amen”. These prayers are to be said in the families and in the parishes. The Evil one accuses the People of God day and night, and the Church is suffering in various parts of the world because of his tactics in escalating hatred, violence and division.

Unless we invite the youth to pray and adore the Lord with us by meditatively reading the Word of God, no activity can be really effective. God alone gives the fruit to our labour. Let us focus on creating a strong prayer network for humanity and the Church. Pope Francis is requesting us to pray intensely for his intentions, calling the Apostleship of Prayer, “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network” (PWPN). This Apostleship of Prayer has a youth branch called “Eucharistic Youth Movement”. The daily morning offering is part of that Apostolate of Prayer. There is a move whole over the world to make associations for the purpose. The Eucharistic Youth Movement is an international movement of Christian formation for children and young people. It allows members to participate in this dynamic of prayer and service, learning to live like Jesus. It promotes the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and nourished specifically by the intentions proposed by the Holy Father. In 1986, St John Paul II entrusted the propagation of Spirituality of the Heart of Jesus to the Jesuits. We are called to nominate a diocesan director to promote the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

I want to bring to your kind attention the task ahead of us in doing the survey of the whole diocese to evolve an integral Pastoral Plan. The survey tool is getting ready. Competent people from the Parish capable of getting trained to administer the survey questionnaire may be requested to join in this task to complete the survey and hand over the filled forms to the Bishop’s House. A major portion of the tabulated data is essential to send the Quinquennial Report to the Holy See. I have requested the Nuncio to give me some more time to complete it as I took over the charge recently and he has consented to it. May God bless our diocese, and may Mother Mary and St Joseph intercede for us.

+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore

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