Cardinal John Dew
When I think of young people in the Church I very often go back to the document that came out of the Synod for Oceania in 1998 – an important event for our part of the world with the theme ‘Jesus Christ and the People of Oceania: Walking His Way, Telling His truth, Living His Life.’
The document said the bishops at the Synod wanted young people in the Church to be drawn to the overwhelmingly attractive figure of Jesus and to be challenged by the sublime ideals of the Gospel. I therefore want young people to be fascinated by Jesus and His teachings.
I also want people in the Church not to see young people as a problem to be solved, but as gifts and mysteries of God to be honoured, revered and involved.
Cardinal John wrote the following letter last November to each final-year students in the Archdiocese of Wellington.
By the time you read this letter you will be celebrating the end of study and exams and looking forward to embarking on the next stage of your life as a young adult. Not everyone is a president or a prime minister but each of you is called to be a leader in ordinary everyday life.
I urge you to be a strong faith-filled and visible Catholic witness throughout your life, show leadership; a servant leadership of purpose, influence and partnership. A leader brings hope, ‘a hope that does not disappoint us, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 5:5).
Pope Francis in his World Youth Day 2014 message said, ‘To be blessed means to be happy. In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and ‘thinking small’ when it comes to the meaning of life. Think big instead. Open your hearts. Young people who choose Christ are strong.
They are fed by His Word and they do not need to ‘stuff themselves’ with money, possessions and fleeting pleasure. Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be truly happy. Take the joy of the Gospel out into the world.’
Hold fast to this vision. As Livvy Mitchell, Head Girl of St Mary’s College, 2014, said in her end of year speech, ‘Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes time. Vision with action can enhance the world,’ (Joel A Baker).
If there is ever anything I can do to assist you in your faith and life journey, please do not hesitate to make contact with me and be assured of my prayerful support along with those of our Catholic faith community.