JARO, Iloilo, Dec. 17, 2013—Highlighting the role of parish priests in the active engagement of youth ministry within the diocese, the director of the Jaro Parish Youth Ministry said young people in parishes become more involved with the Church when they feel the concern and support of their respective parish priests.
Fr. Nathaniel Gentizon noted that, although it is true that priests may find it easier to work with older people in the parishes, young people can be a great contributing force if they are given the opportunity.
The priest made the observation on the occasion of the National Youth Day, which is celebrated every year on December 16, the beginning of “Misa de Gallo” or the dawn Masses leading to Christmas.
The annual National Youth Day celebrates the presence of the youth in the Church and encourages all the faithful to support the apostolate with young people.
Noting the importance and relevance of youth ministry, Gentizon said that the holding of National Youth Day at the start of the Christmas novena signifies that Youth Ministry is a journey.
He said it is a concrete way of telling the people that Youth Ministry is essentially “incarnational”.
Just as Jesus was born to us to be with His people, Youth Ministry likewise aims to reach out to the young people to gather, form and draw them closer to Jesus, Gentizon said.
He explained that one concrete example of this is the importance of the role of parish priests in youth ministry.
Considering that many parish priests are “middle aged” or even older, which presents an apparent “generation gap” between the priests and young people, Gentizon said that “age does not matter” as parish priests, no matter their age, can reach out to the youth.
He said that Pope Francis, from his first general audience since his election to the papacy, urged Catholics to leave their comfort zones to search for “lost sheep”, and that “we must not be content to remain in the enclosure of the 99 sheep; we have to step outside, to search for the lost sheep,”
Gentizon also recalled what Pope Francis said during the World Youth Day in Rio de Jainero: “I would like to address you, dear priests..: you have come to accompany your young people… Please continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone!”
In the Parish of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria the youth take active part in the building of the Basic Ecclesial Communities or the Magagmay nga Kristianong Katilingban (MKK), a new way of being Church in the Archdiocese of Jaro by giving witness of the faith to others.
During the Year of Faith the youth of the Jaro Parish Youth Ministry have reached out to other young people to build up the MKK in every barangay through the YouCat, the study and meditation on the Holy Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and the YouPray, the encouragement of young people to actively participate in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration.
Gentizon explained that youth ministry has to be built on the pillars of the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist.
The youth are also has an active role in the ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts of the Archdiocese of Jaro to help the survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda”.
Volunteers from parishes, mainly young people, have been preparing relief goods packages that are sent to the victims of super-typhoon in the towns of Northern Iloilo.
The members from the Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission (JAYC) are also sharing their expertise in the Social Media to contribute to the Archdiocese’s relief efforts.
The JAYC has launched an Online Donation Portal (http://ushare.unionbankph.com/jaro/) to offer prospective donors in the Philippines and overseas to send, in a fast and secure way, their contributions to the relief and rehabilitation efforts of the Archdiocese of Jaro for the benefit of the survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda”. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas)