By: Fr. Melchor F. Samonte,  Pastor at Christ the King Catholic Church, Shaunavon SK - Courtesy The Shaunavon Standard


I had an opportunity to stay in Camp Lemieux for three days just a couple of weeks ago with the young people coming not only from the parishes of Archdiocese of Regina and Diocese of Saskatoon but as far as the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. I prayed, played, and dined with them. It was a time of fun with youngsters.  Fair enough to say that I enjoyed the short stint of immersion with the futures of the church. But honestly, I had some struggles, especially coming out from my own shell. I call this experience as my personal incarnation.

Those days with them somehow clarified my critical thinking; asking myself from the perspective of a priest “where are the young people?”  Are they losing their faith? Definitely not, their faith is still very alive. For one thing, the counselors and the counselors in training have great potential spiritual leadership. Campers were singing together beautiful hymns of praise, and they were dancing together gracefully like the sons and daughters of Zion mentioned in the Old Testament.

They manifested an amazing amount of discipline by observing silence when they needed to, and they were intently listening to spiritual inputs. They also gradually developed and shared their talents and passions among themselves.

In the past, I have asked why young people are no longer bothered coming to church to attend mass on Sundays? Correct me if I am wrong with my statement if ever they will come to church, it is not so much because it is their obligation. I should never tell them boldly that “not coming to the church on Sunday” is a grave sin for they will definitely ignore me. Young people will surely get excited to come to church because they feel and believe that the CHURCH IS A FAMILY WHERE THEY BELONG.

After all, I said to myself, the church is not a magnificent edifice but a gathering of the faithful people reading, reflecting, and sharing together the word of God. Jesus Himself confirmed it when He said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18.20). What they are looking for is not so much a church that talks about sin but a family that proclaims “God loves them so much.”

As a priest, I have no clue at all how to do a search and rescue mission for the young people to eventually bring them back once again to the bosom of the church but one thing I am pretty sure, the church has to reach out instead of waiting for them at the portals of the church. Such mission remains an urgent task for Church leaders and those who enshrine great concern for them in their hearts.

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