“Those of you who work in the field of youth pastoral ministry, carry out valuable work for the Church. The young need this service: both adults and other young people of mature faith who accompany them on their path, helping them to find the road that leads to Christ”, writes the Pope in his message to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and to the participants in the 4th European Congress on Youth Pastoral Ministry, promoted by the same dicastery and in collaboration with the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, held in Rome from 11 to 13 December on the theme: “A young Church, witness to the joy of the Gospel”.
“This pastoral ministry consists of walking with them, accompanying them personally in the complex and at times difficult contexts in which they are immersed”, he continues. “Youth pastoral ministry must engage with the questions posed by the youth of today, and from this starting point, initiate a real and honest dialogue to bring Christ into their lives. And a true dialogue in this sense can be achieved by those who experience a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, which then overflows into their relationships with their brethren”.
The Pope acknowledges in his message that much remains to be done, and encourages the participants never to tire of announcing the Gospel, with their life and their word, since “Europe needs to rediscover it!”. He also encourages them to consider the current situation of young Europeans through the eyes of Christ. “He teaches us to see not only the challenges and problems, but also to recognize the many seeds of love and hope dispersed across the continent, that has given to the Church as great number of saints, many of whom were young. Let us not forget that we are given the task of sowing, but it is God Who makes these seeds grow”.
“While you sow the Word of the Lord in this vast field that is European youth, you have the opportunity of bearing witness to the reasons for the hope that is within you, with gentleness and respect. You are able to help the young to realize that faith is not opposed to reason, and thus to accompany them as they become joyful agents for the evangelization of their peers”. Pope Francis concludes his message by remarking that “youth pastoral ministry is required to offer to the young a path of vocational discernment, to prepare them to follow Jesus on the way of conjugal and family life, or that of special consecration in the service of God’s Kingdom”.