Sr Lucy Joseph Attickal FSP participated in the Seminar organized by the Indian Catechetical Association held in Bangalore in February, 2012.
Below is the Final statement of the General Body Meeting of the ICA, which is held annually.
XVI GENERAL BODY
INDIAN CATECHETICAL ASSOCIATION
New Paradigms for Youth Catechesis
NBCLC, Bangalore, 8-10 February 2012.
Gathering at NBCLC, Bangalore for the XVI General Body Meeting of the Indian Catechetical Association (ICA), from 8-10 February 2012, we, the 76 participants [Priests, Religious and Laity consisting of 20 ICA members and 56 other participants] in the presence of the Chairman for the CCBI Commission for Catechetics, Bishop Antony Devotta, from all over India, deliberated on the theme: New Paradigms for Youth Catechesis and we believe that youth catechesis needs serious attention from all engaged in catechesis and youth ministry.
Youth catechesis has to respond to the challenges arising from the currents of the contemporary youth. “It is today more difficult and tiring than ever before, because of the obstacles and difficulties of all kinds that it meets” (Catechesi Tradendae 40). The new paradigm of youth catechesis is to be done in the spirit and process of new evangelization with the intent of stressing on the missionary dimension by using the pedagogy of participation, presenting the elements of faith in the language and symbols of the youth, facilitating them to partake of the liturgical celebration and promoting small vibrant youth communities, with the focus on the cultural background of India.
2. Our Reflections
2.1 Youth catechesis fulfils youth ministry; they complement each other for the formation of youth. Youth catechesis is rightly considered the essence and core of youth ministry and we believe that the new paradigms should guarantee the stable formation of youth progressively, as seen in the case of the young man in the Gospel (cf. Mt 19: 16-22), at the levels of didache (cognition), diakonia (service), koinonia (fellowship or relationships), and leiturgia (celebration of life) to experience a life of intimacy with Christ.
2.2 Understanding the culture of youth, listening to the languages of youth and appreciating the trends of youth are necessary if we are to propose a catechesis valid for contemporary youth. Youth catechesis is to be proposed in new ways which are open to the sensibilities and the problems of the youth.
2.3 Dull and dreary liturgical practices and preaching are the main complaints of many youth. Youth catechesis should facilitate the youth to take part in the liturgical celebrations more vibrantly. The richness and uniqueness of the value of the liturgical celebrations are to be presented creatively and imaginatively, in line with the official teachings of the Church, to the vibrant minds of youth.
2.4 Releasing of the Youcat is a step taken by the Church to feel with the youth. It presents the content of our faith in the language of the young. It is a book that stimulates, excites and inspires the young. Youth have to “Study this catechism with passion and perseverance…read it with a friend; from study groups and networks…” (Pope Benedict XVI; Foreword of Youcat). It is the duty of the particular churches to make apt adaptations, adequate alterations, appropriate amendments and translation in the style of Youcat depending on the cultural, socio political and economic situations.
2.5 Emergence of small youth communities in various dioceses and regions, especially due to the charismatic renewal and other movements like Jesus Youth, is a positive shift in the catechesis for the youth. The Charismatic Renewal and Jesus Youth have sparked off a new ‘zeal’, ‘expression’ and ‘methods’ in the hearts of many youth. It is the duty of the pastors to rekindle the faith of these young people. The youth catechists (priests, religious and laity) have to play an important role in the formation of youth communities by making them agents of new evangelization where their deeds, the fruits of the lived experiences of faith, communion and prayer will proclaim to everyone the message of the Gospel and the spirit already working in them.
2.6 Young people who are well trained in faith and prayer must become more and more the apostles of youth. “The young should become the first apostles of the young, in direct contact with them, exercising the apostolate by themselves among themselves, taking account of their social environment.” (Apostolicam Actuositatem 12)
From the above reflections we draw the following proposals:
Redefine the role of diocesan youth director as a catechist.
- Provide opportunities and create forums for the youth to express themselves and involve in the mission of Church.
- Promote and create youth communities wherever possible and needed and give them guidance so that they may cooperate and net work with other groups.
- Provide pastoral care for the underprivileged, marginalised (dalits, tribals, illiterate, remote rural youth..etc.) and migrant youth.
- Promote the use of anthropological methods while catechising the young.
- Train the youth ministers (priests, religious and laity) in specific skills to animate youth.
- Accompany the youth in their faith journey by encouraging, accepting, appreciating and creating a sense of trust in them.
- Prepare guidelines for youth liturgy so that the youth are given ample opportunities to be catechised on liturgy.
- Encourage the use of conventional (dramas, role plays, mimes, puppet shows) and other modern means of communication while ministering to the youth.
- Ensure that the catechists (priests, religious and lay faithful) have to see that all the youth are benefitting from Youcat by encouraging them to have it and study it.
- Involve and encourage the participation of the lay faithful in the youth ministry.
- Facilitate parents to exercise their role as primary catechists.
- Pastors have to take catechesis as an important duty and they should accompany everyone at every stage of one’s life particularly at the time of youth when one is more vulnerable to various impacts.
The focus and the goal of youth catechesis are to help the youth to have an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus. Forming the youth is very demanding and we need Divine support. As catechists we take Christ as our model and seek His blessings to carry out this mission.