The first meeting for the young seekers' community held on Thursday 16th June at 5:00 pm (EAT) via skype acted as an avenue for the introduction of members and a way of building a meaningful relationship among the members. The purpose of the meeting was to bring young people together and connect globally so that we can know the kind of projects undertaken in our local communities and the social issues affecting us and look for a workable solution to these issues.
Alloys Nyakundi played a key role in the moderation of the session. We had four young members from Kenya, one from the New York state, six from Pakistan, and two from Uganda, and in attendance was the Father Joseph Healey.
Fr. Healey encouraged the members by reminding them about Pope Francis’ visit to Brazil when he had a meeting with young people on the beach and asked them to make a mess, cause trouble, think outside the box, and do it differently…. He also touched on a crucial point reminding us about what cardinal Michael from Canada once shared that the biggest challenge in the church today is the gap between the young people in the institutional church. He added further that young people find nourishment and their support in small faith sharing communities. He left us with two proverbs: We create the path by walking (Spanish) and if you want to walk fast walk alone, if you want to walk far walk together (Agaw, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso)
What stood out from the discussion is that young people feel disconnected from the church they love, for instance, one of the members who shared her feeling of being disconnected in presence of forty young people in Albany, Diocese who were in a session of Synodal process. She didn’t connect at all with the young man who said we have to go back to the Catholic church of Western civilization. Another member shared about a friend who was very active in the Catholic church on the KU campus including being an acolyte. But on going back to her home parish she felt out of place and ended up joining Pentecostal denomination where she felt her expectations were being met.
Another member shared about a friend who was very active in the church while still on the campus but upon going back to his home parish, he felt out of place ending up joining another denomination because that’s where he felt his expectations are met.
There is also an outcry from several members who are discouraged by the church and from the church because of her silence when injustices are perpetrated in front of their eyes and no one speaks against such. Young people are not even given the necessary attention contrary to their expectations that they should be supported and empowered rather than being left in the cold.
Another crucial point that was shared was on expanding leadership among young people. When young people are well-formed through the church and given an opportunity to seek leadership positions, automatically we can visualize a future filled with peace and fairness.
Young people yearn for worthy accompaniment because they undergo lots of challenges, for example, things to do with sexuality, drug and substance abuse, depression, etc. not forgetting their transitions in life. Most young people find the church being a place where they find criticism which discourages making the look for consolation elsewhere. If an analogy of the family could be embraced by our churches, it could help in a big way because finding a place where one is guided and listened to attracts those seeking a place to call home.
It was also encouraging to note that some members are passionate about caring for the environment and looking for creative ways like not having a cake for the celebration but trees to plant to commemorate the celebration.