Accompanying the youth
Besides his saintly life and ‘zeal for souls’, one thing that people marvel in St. Dominic is his vision for the Order: his ability to foresee the possibilities and challenges of the future generations. He was far ahead of his time. Keeping in mind the future challenges he was able to form a well-balanced Order of Preachers. If the Order has flourished all over the world today it is because of the vision with which he planned. He laid such a strong foundation for his Order that even after eight centuries of its existence it still stands tall as a united family. The Dominican family with its friars, nuns, laity and youth coming under the same umbrella bears testimony to his vision. In his work for the Kingdom Dominic was able to collaborate with everybody from friars and nuns to laity and youth. This is something we can learn from him as his sons and daughters.
Today we are in the age of collaboration. In this advanced, globalized world one cannot be effective and successful in any ministry if one works in isolation. If we realize this truth and work in collaboration with other individuals and organizations we would bear much fruit. Youth appear to be inevitable sign of our time because youth is emerging as a major force in the world today. They have the tremendous power to bring about much needed change in the world. India is often called a young nation because more than half of its population is in the youthful age. Therefore Church in India is concerned about the youth. During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II, the lover of youth, often called youth as a “special treasure”. His fraternal concern for the youth is manifested in the number of World Youth Day celebrations he organized. He knew the future of the Church depends on them. Providentially, present day youth are showing keen interest in collaborating with clergy in the mission of the Church. This is evident from the number of youth Organizations flourishing in the Church.
Dominicans in India have been making efforts to animate and collaborate with the youth in their ministry. Under the able leadership of fr. Francis Arackal in Delhi and Dominican students in Nagpur efforts were made in the past to form Dominican Council of Youth in some of our parishes. For a few years Dominican Council of Youth showed a steady growth. There had been regular meetings and input sessions on faith formation. Unfortunately, due to various reasons and circumstances the DCY came to a decline and now hoping for a revival. However, besides parish youth groups in our parishes, it is nice to see several friars actively involved in the youth organizations like Jesus Youth, YCS, School ministry etc. ‘Yuva Jyothi’, our shelter for boys (St. Martin’s, Nagpur) doing a commendable job in freeing the vulnerable youth from exploitation, injustice, poverty… and offering them a new direction in life.
Youth is a very important and crucial phase in one’s life. It is at this time a person acquires attitudes, values and makes decisions for the future. Hence as pastors and animators it is our duty to guide them and offer a direction to their life. It is time for us to wake up and respond to the immense opportunities and possibilities of youth ministry. It is time to collaborate with them for they are the hope of our future.