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POPE’S WORLD DAY OF PEACE MESSAGE 2012: Educating young people in justice and peace
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli visiting Hmong villagers in Vietnam’s Hung Hoa diocese in his most recent trip to the communist country.

HANOI – Vietnam Church leaders say that extended visits by the country’s non-resident pontifical representative have strengthened solidarity among the faithful and increased understanding between the local Church and Rome.

Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was named non-resident pontifical representative in January and has since paid five two-week visits to the country, travelling to all 26 dioceses. In his latest trip, from Nov 25-Dec 10, he visited the dioceses of Hung Hoa, Phat Diem, Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa and Vinh, as well as Ha Noi archdiocese.

“At each diocese, Archbishop Girelli united all Catholics and strengthened solidarity among them,” said one bishop who asked not to be named.

The bishop, from a southern diocese, said the papal representative was warmly received by thousands of Catholics who have been hoping for a papal visit for many years.

“The Vatican envoy is really a spiritual gift,” the bishop said.

In addition to visiting local priests, laypeople and Church-run healthcare facilities, the envoy also met government officials.
Nicholas Lee asks 20-somethings how they would like to see the Church grow in the new year

Use social media to engage youths

The effective use of social media can certainly help the Church better engage teenagers/young adults as this group spends a substantial amount of time on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Some parishes have started a Facebook fan page, but that is not sufficient. The church should actively encourage parishioners to check for updates on Facebook and post interesting updates on parish happenings to keep teenagers and young adults interested.

My perception of serving in the Church is that it is very time consuming and demands a high level of commitment.

Perhaps the Church can look at engaging teenagers and young adults through short-term or ad hoc involvements, such as helping out at the canteen, serving with the wardens or helping to clean the church once a month.

This will encourage those with a busy lifestyle to get involved and serve the Church.

Community bonding activities such as bowling or movie nights are good ways to get parishioners acquainted with each other.

I hope the Church can get more actively involved in serving the homeless and those in need. It will be good if more homes can be built by the Catholic Church in Singapore to take care of the homeless or to provide food and medical treatment for the needy, regardless of religion.
VATICAN CITY – At least 26 Catholic pastoral workers were killed in mission lands or among society’s most disadvantaged communities, although they were more often the victims of violent crimes than persecution for their faith, said a Vatican news agency.

Each year, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, publishes a list of pastoral workers who died violently. The 2011 list was released on Dec 30.

The agency said that over the course of the year, it registered the deaths of 18 priests, four Religious women and four laypeople.

Twenty-five church workers were killed in 2010, a figure down from an unusually high number of 37 workers murdered in 2009.