Message for 2021 Youth Day in Korea (Summary)
“Christ is Always with the Youth”
(from the Directory for Youth Ministry in Korea)
On the occasion of 2021 Youth Day in Korea, I would like to extend my congratulations and offer my gratitude to all the young people and their companions, who engage in youth ministry, which is an important element of the Church’s mission. This is a special occasion through which we can encourage young people to nurture their desire to live in love, justice and peace, all the time deepening their faith in the fullness of God’s blessings. It is also an occasion whereby the Church may encourage young people to acknowledge the fact that the Church is always with them and also renews her efforts to spread the truth and love of Christ in the world.
Era of Uncertainty
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing an unprecedented crisis. This prolonged and precarious situation has put our society and families in serious danger, destroying the lives of the most vulnerable. Sadly, not just the pandemic, but current environmental problems have also impacted us. The Church is no exception to this trend. In particular, youth ministry is increasingly threatened, by such things as clericalism, popularism, and ‘faith not based in Christ.’ The secular perspective of parents is one of the most far reaching threats. Parents can tend to place more emphasis on their children’s studies than on authentic faith formation.
Directory for Youth Ministry in the Catholic Church in Korea
The Committee for Youth Ministry of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea(CBCK) kicked off a plan to publish a Directory for Youth Ministry in the Catholic Church in Korea (draft, hereafter the Directory). This process began, in 2012, with a symposium entitled, “Suggestions for Youth Ministry.” At the symposium the Committee held a public hearing in preparation for the Directory in 2013. In 2021, the Directory was finally published. It was composed of five parts, based on qualitative and quantitative research. The Directory aims to outline future plans for youth ministry. In a rapidly changing world, this Directory demonstrates how only Christ can bring hope from despair, lead us from death to life, and bear abundant fruits nurtured not by darkness but by light. It is my hope that the Directory will be helpful in facilitating youth ministry in a changing society and Church.
Youth Ministry is ‘Companion Ministry’
Youth ministry is an apostolic activity in which the Church accompanies young people so that they can become protagonists for the evangelization of their peers and the world. Christ, himself eternally young, offers young people companionship and friendship. Like Him, the Church, as His body, will lead the young to discover their vocations as being called by God. The Church will also accompany the young along their way towards a better future. In this way, young people will experience personal and intimate encounters with God (cf. Directory, nn.19-23).
Towards a ‘Personal Encounter with God’
The Church should accompany not only young people within the institution (those who are baptized and remain inside the Church) but also outside of the institution (outside the family, school, and the Church, North Korean defectors, young workers, young migrants and refugees). Such persons include young people at risk, those with disabilities or mental challenged, and others in special situations such as detention facilities (cf. Directory, nn.65-69). We should not be afraid to apply various and far reaching actions and plans so as to promote various ‘personal encounters with God.’ Let us set out on the way together.
Let Us Be Encouraged by the Love of Christ Who Accompanies Us for Eternity!
I would like to close this message with the words which St. Pope Paul VI addressed young men and women about the world at the conclusion of Vatican Council II: “For it is you who are to receive the torch from the hands of your elders and to live in the world at the period of the most gigantic transformations ever realized in its history. It is you who, receiving the best of the example of the teaching of your parents and your teachers, are to form the society of tomorrow” (Address of Pope Paul VI to Young Men and Women of the World, December 8, 1965). As the Council invited young people to build the society of tomorrow in the midst of gigantic historical transformations, the Church continues to accompany young people, encouraging them to build tomorrow’s society. Today’s decisions will have reaching repercussions for the Church.
Let us entrust everything to the Trinitarian God. And again availing myself of this opportunity, I reiterate my congratulations and pray for the Lord’s abundant love to be poured out upon our young people and all those who accompany them.
“Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”(Mt 28,20).
May 30, 2021
+ Peter Chung Soon-Taick
Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
CBCK Committee for Youth Ministry