By Fr. Chetan Machado

Aug 30 : The National meeting of regional, diocesan youth commission secretaries and national coordinators of other youth movements in India was organized by the National Youth Commission of Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) from 24-25 August 2019 at St. Thomas Mount, Chennai and hosted by the Diocese of Chingleput together with the Tamil Nadu Bishops Conference. The participants of this annual meeting included 86 Diocesan youth directors, 13 Regional Directors, 8 Movement Directors along with some National youth leaders and members of the CCBI National Youth Commission. Most. Rev. Soosai Nazarene (Chairman, CCBI National Youth Commission) along with Most. Rev. Ignatius D’Souza (Member Bishop) and Fr. Chetan Machado (Executive Secretary of the commission) chaired the meeting.

The inaugural Eucharistic celebration on 24th August morning was celebrated by Most. Rev. George Antonysamy, the Archbishop of Madras Mylapore, Most. Rev. Antonysamy Neethinathan, Bishop of Chingleput along with the 2 bishops of the Commission, Fr. Chetan, Fr. Martin Joseph (Regional Secretary for Tamil Nadu Youth Commission) and Rev. Fr. Michael A.D. (Diocesan Secretary, Chingleput Youth Commission).

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the challenges and concerns of youth ministry in India, evaluate the programmes and progress in the previous year and also to plan the way ahead. The agenda consisted the annual reports of the National office, regional reports of all regions, discussion on the Synod and its implementation across the 132 Latin dioceses and 14 ecclesial regions in India and reviewing the guidelines for Youth ministry in India and statutes of Indian Catholic Youth Movement and other concerns of the youth ministry.

In his keynote address, Most. Rev. Soosai Nazarene shared about the growth and present scenario of the National youth ministry in India and asked the youth directors to continue to march forward for the betterment of our young people. In his concluding remarks, Most. Rev. Ignatius D’Souza told the youth directors that challenges are a part of this ministry, but hurdles and finances should never be a block in the formation of young people, he also urged the gathering to brainstorm on a system to make young people own up the ministry by contributing a little portion of their expenditure on gadgets in order to share in the responsibility towards the ministry.

Fr. Chetan Machado presented the annual report and achievements of the commission from August 2018-August 2019 along with the ICYM & YCS/YSM reports by the Presidents,Percival Holt and Deril D’Sa, respectively.

Amidst the many discussions, some of the key highlights were the need to reach out to more young people as we are not even catering to 20% of the total at present, more focus and opportunities for latin catholic youth, promoting higher education and public leadership in catholic youth, addressing the needs of young people rather than assumption of their needs, evaluation of aim, purpose and expected outcome of programmes, innovation in programmes rather than doing the same routine programmes.

Some key proposals for the directors included the need to have a diocesan pastoral plan, to have a more personal approach towards young people in dioceses by visiting parish youth groups, the need to develop an advisory/resource team (comprising of resourceful persons, former youth leaders and representatives of various youth movements) at every diocesan level for better functioning of the ministry, collaboration and networking with other commissions and youth movements in dioceses and regions in order to reach out to more young people, sharing of charisms of various youth movements rather than replicating the wheel.

The discussion on the guidelines on youth ministry and statutes of ICYM brought out some meaningful proposals. The annual calendar of the commission was discussed and finalized in consultation with the gathering.

There were also the delegates of the Synod (Ms. Cheryl Anne Menezes, Mr. Percival Holt) and Post Synodal International Youth Forum (Ms. Jesvita Quadras, Mr. Becaremeo Nongtdu)who shared about the Synod, Christus vivit and what needs to be done to further implement the synodal guidelinesupto the grassroots.

This two day meeting ended with a solemn Eucharistic celebration at the National shrine at St. Thomas mount, where the apostle was martyred followed by a cultural evening and felicitation by the youth of Chingleput diocese. Most. Rev.Stephen Antony, Bishop of Tuticorin was present for the evening along with other dignitaries of Chingleput Diocese. Fr. Chetan expressed profound gratitude to the diocese under the guidance of Fr. Michael for the hospitality and the best arrangements.

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