Much has been written about the spiritual needs of young people who face an ever-changing and challenging world. Technology alone presents unparalleled opportunities for improvements in education and social networking, (which I did not have when I was young), while at the same time tempting young people into behavior that can easily become addictive and even destructive. As a Church, both on the local and diocesan levels, our efforts to form, support and accompany young people is one of our greatest priorities.
I have been privileged to work in the field of youth and young adult ministry for most of my priesthood, especially in these last six years as Episcopal Liaison to the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) and the USCCB World Youth Day USA Liaison. These positions have given me wonderful opportunities to collaborate with women and men who have devoted their entire lives to serving young people and from whom I have learned a great deal. I have also treasured the times when I have been able to teach and accompany young people in our Diocese and elsewhere. I have always found them to be open-hearted, sincere in their desire to make a positive difference in life and most importantly, hungry for a real personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, even if they do not know the language of faith to describe that relationship. While the challenges they face are many and at times serious, there is also great opportunities and much hope for the future.
To stand with our young people is to give them opportunities to ask their questions honestly and directly, expecting that their questions will be answered in faith. It means to introduce them to a living Savior who will never love their sins but will always love them and who calls them to forgiveness and conversion. It asks that we accompany them in their personal struggles by loving them as they are, while at the same time inviting them to seek true greatness in Christ. It also asks that we allow our young people to exercise leadership in appropriate ways while serving as their mentors, teaching them how to learn from their mistakes and to build upon their strengths and talents.
I firmly believe that if we wish to transform the world, it will be the young people who will lead the charge. Let us help them to take up this challenge, for their sakes and for ours.
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos! Do not miss Bishop Frank’s latest video: What Does it Mean to Stand with Christ?