SINGAPORE – About 100 parishioners from the parish of St. Francis Xavier spent their Sunday afternoon at a Young People Forum on Jan 13. More than half of those who attended were youth, with the remaining a mixture of parents and young adults.

The aim of the forum convened by the newly appointed archdiocesan youth chaplain, assistant priest Father Brian D’Souza, was to listen to the concerns of the youths and parents of the parish. With this information, Father Brian intends to form a committee to work with him to set up structures for the youth ministry in the parish.

The afternoon’s forum began with a short introduction by Father Brian on the world that the young live in today, and the Christian values that are needed to address what is lacking in their world. Some of the characteristics of the world of the young included the need for speed, convenience and entertainment, extreme individualism, the unbalanced emphasis on a person’s exterior life rather than the interior life, and relativism.

Parishioners believed that St. Francis Xavier’s youths showed good involvement in the parish as there are many active and new groups, but noted also that these groups involve only those who are already active, and lacked cohesiveness.

Youths who had gone through catechism classes in the parish shared that it is important to provide teachings which are relevant and which helps them to answer questions regarding life and God. They wanted their teachers to share life experiences, not provide textbook answers, to questions about their faith. The youths also called for more frequent camps, praise and worship sessions, and mission trips.

Overall, parishioners felt that opportunities for bonding were lacking in the youth groups, and there was a lack of guidance by mentors and role models for the youth groups. They also expressed their vision for the young people in the parish to have a vibrant and close-knit community, with greater commitment and enthusiasm from the youths.

The number who attended the Young People Forum "shows that parents are concerned to see where their youths can go", said Father Brian.  -By Daniel Tay

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