“Special attention should be given to the pastoral, catechetical, and liturgical care of youth, who are to encourage both individual and in groups to follow Christ generously after the example and spirituality of our Holy Father Augustine. To this end, gathering of young people, locally as well as within circumscriptions and internationally, are to be promoted.” This is always the guiding principle of the commission on youth. We are very consistent in our conviction that a special attention should be given to this group because they are the very source of our religious and priestly vocation. We have initiated a sustainable plan for organizing gatherings that will attract the youth from our respective schools, parishes and even from the communities of our Augustinian brothers and sisters within the Asia Pacific Augustinian Conference (APAC) region. This is a healthy environment for all Augustinian brothers and sisters to study the word of God, feel the Augustinian spirituality and embrace our distinct communion and friendship done in the context of nurturing the relationship with the young people.
It is important to remember how the late Pope John Paul II reassessed the special role of the youth in the transformative agenda of the modern Catholic Church. The participation of this sector becomes the moving force for other aspects in the life of the Church to be alive and relevant. For the last 20 years, we have witnessed the beauty, spirit and life brought by the youth to the different congregations and dioceses paving the way to have a more responsive, dedicated and volunteering Church relevant to the current challenges of the world.
The Province is actively working on four areas of apostolate, namely: Pastoral, Educational, Formation and Mission. The two areas of apostolate that we can expect an abundance of youth are coming from our Pastoral and Educational mission. Currently, the Filipino Augustinians in the Province are taking good care of at least nine parishes within the country, while we have at least six schools and a university. With this reality, indeed we can say that the “Harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” Hence, the commission on youth is creating programs and organizing gatherings that will nurture the desire and inspiration of our youth to embrace Christ, the Augustinian community and the Ten Augustinian Values. In this way, we are putting into concrete realities the word of our Father General (Fr. Prevost) when he said, “Young people are looking for friendship, they want to belong to a community where they will feel welcomed and affirmed.”
This is basically true that a lot of young people nowadays are in search for sincere friendship and a healthy sense of belonging which is a perfect chance to build in our apostolate avenues where we can meet the young people and engage them in their lifestyle, priorities and trends. However, sad to say, we only have few friars who seemed to be willing to take part in this mission. Understandably, we need to have serious preparations in dealing with them, the time necessary to establish trust, and the desire to journey with them even if sometimes we found ourselves not in our comfort zone. If we can only focus on this huge potential and opportunity before us and maximize their “captive presence” (because they are already connected in our institutions/apostolate) and to redirect their energy and preoccupations towards something noble, spiritual and communitarian, the benefits to our community/Province and even to the Church would be very substantial.
The youth of today is the future of our country and of our Church. It is important to seriously plan and strategize our apostolate on this area because such will determine the kind of people we have in the future of our organization/Province.