Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "We Bishops of Pakistan are with you, at your side to support you for your development, your spiritual growth and your prosperity. We want our young people to be capable professionals, and your prosperity is the prosperity of our country, our nation, society and the Church.
Work hard where you are, keep hope alive amidst the challenges around you. Education is the solution to many of the challenges we face in daily life, we need to commit ourselves to higher education, to grow in professional skills, to bear witness to the Gospel in society": this is what Mgr. Samson Shukardin OFM, President of the Episcopal Commission for Youth in Pakistan said in his message to the young people gathered in Karachi in recent days for the closing ceremony of the Year of Youth in Pakistan.
Hundreds of young people from different parishes of the Archdiocese gathered in Karachi from 23 to 26 November and - coinciding with the conclusion of the liturgical year that has just ended - attended the Holy Mass celebrated to conclude the Year of Youth in the Cathedral of St. Patrick's in Karachi. Cardinal Joseph Coutts presided over the Eucharistic Celebration which was concelebrated by Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan, by Archbishop Benny Travas of Karachi, by Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, by Bishop Indrias Rehmat of Faisalabad, by Bishop Khalid Rehmat of Quetta and by Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM of Hyderabad. The Year of Youth was inaugurated in November 2019 (see Fides, 18/11/2019) and was extended until November 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 4 days of gathering, the young people talked about challenges such as illiteracy, drug addiction and poverty and unemployment, despair, weakness of faith. These challenges also lend themselves to other issues such as accusations under the blasphemy law and forced conversion for women belonging to religious minorities.
To help young people grow in the faith to be responsible citizens of Pakistan, young Catholics also discussed pastoral, social and evangelization initiatives aimed at their peers.
Listening to their words, Mgr. Shukardin encouraged young people to remain "full of hope": "The closing of the Year of Youth is not the end of our initiatives for young people, I see it as a new beginning for new missions for which we are well prepared during our four days of meeting and the programs organized in the dioceses over the past two years.
We have a lot to do, we have taken note of the issues and challenges you have raised", he said. "At the same time - he remarked - we must reach young people who are in conditions of slavery and work in brick kilns, and who are illiterate in order to introduce them to restore their dignity as children of God. We Bishops are confident for the good future of our young people in Pakistan". Exhorting the young people of all the dioceses, Bishop Shukardin said: "From the total population of our young Catholic Catholics, we only meet 10% who attend the Church; it is our responsibility to reach out to those who have strayed from the Church or do not show interest in the life of faith". "For this - he continued - I urge you to take root in the life of prayer, to found your life on the rock which is the Word of God to form you well in the faith and to be witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 29/11/2021)