Last week, tens of thousands of young Catholics gathered at the Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). The theme this year was “Blessed • Broken • Given.” The Salesian Family was present and active. We look forward to hearing from young people about their experience.
I’d like to draw your attention to the Pope’s video message to the NCYC. Here is the text.
Dear young people of NCYC,
I send you a very affectionate greeting along with my prayers for this encounter you are living. May it be an occasion to strengthen and increase faith and communion, and enflame your missionary hearts with the courage and strength to live in and with the Lord in a Church always going out!
Today, just as in the beginning, we must go out to an encounter with each person (even more, it is our mission to do so), especially to those most alienated and those who suffer. We must reach the existential peripheries of our world!
You know your peers; you know that many are alone, that many do not know Jesus. Go, go, and bring the Lord; go and fill the places where you live, including the digital ones, not with convictions, not to convince, not to proselytize, but to bear witness to the tenderness and mercy of Jesus.
I bless you with all my heart, and don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you. (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-video-messa...)
What a great message! It is as if the Pope were writing specifically to the young people from our Salesian presences. I invite all the members of the Salesian Family to read this message again, prayerfully reflect on it, and then see how they can incorporate it into their pastoral planning. Notice how Pope Francis repeats, “Go, go, … go,” to emphasize the urgency of the mission. He’s not talking to priests, brothers, and sisters. He’s addressing these passionate words to the young people. The young people are the protagonists of the mission, especially to their peers—young people evangelizing young people. The Pope is not afraid to propose the bold challenge to go out beyond their comfort zone; he tells the young people to go out to the peripheries. This means leaving the comfort zone behind. We don’t go forth alone; we go out as a community of believers. Bearing witness to the faith is the mission that Jesus entrusted to all members of the Church.
We are about to begin the season of Advent, during which we will hear the stories of the prophets, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are outstanding examples of people who bore testimony to their faith in word and action. They inspire us to accompany the young people of our Salesian presences to be authentic disciples and enthusiastic missionaries of Jesus.
Congratulations to all the young people who attended NCYC, and those who contributed to the Salesian activities there. May this experience be carried out to the existential peripheries of our world.
Fr. Tim Zak