ON THE YEAR OF THE YOUTH (2019)
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
By the time this pastoral letter is read, all six vicariates of the diocese would have celebrated the conclusion of our Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons. To our Clergy, Religious and Consecrated Persons: we acknowledge with joy and profound gratitude how the humble yet powerful witness of your lives – especially in your radical living out of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience – have enlivened and renewed the lay faithful in their commitment to bring the Gospel at home, in the neighborhood and in society. We are equally one with you in humbly accepting the need for continuing conversion, seeing the many failures and compromises that have scandalized our brothers and sisters in the faith, striving to rise anew with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be once again authentic bearers of the Good News that is Jesus Christ, and to be renewed servant leaders of Jesus and faithful builders of His Church. To our clergy and all consecrated persons, maraming salamat po sa inyung patuloy na pagbigay saksi kay Kristo at sa inyung pagpapakumbaba!
And now, we enter into our 8th year preparation for the 500th Year of the Evangelization of the Philippines by turning our attention to the youth of our land. We dedicate the Year 2019 to the Year of the Youth. There are two guideposts that can help us draw up a roadmap for the diocesan celebration of the Year of the Youth in 2019:
1) the Synod of Bishops 2018 that sought to tackle the theme : the Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment;
2) the CBCP-ECY (Episcopal Commission on the Youth) which presents its plans through “An Open Letter of the Filipino Youth to the Catholic Church in the Philippines”.
The Synod of Bishops 2018
The purpose of the Synod of Bishops 2018, is to focus on how the church helps, guides and accompanies young people as they grow in faith and discern the part they can play in shaping the future of the Church. In this Synod, the Holy Father has expressed his desire to
“let the young be the ‘center of attention’…the Church wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith, even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherd of souls.”
The Synod seeks to accompany our young people to : a) Recognize b) Interpret and C) Choose God’s call/way in order to better give witness to and proclaim the joy of the Gospel in their respective life settings.
The CBCP-ECY’s OPEN LETTER
In response to the clarion call of the Holy Father to “let the young be the center of (our)attention”, the Episcopal Commission on the Youth gathered a group of youth leaders and youth ministers together with some clergy, consecrated persons and lay people, and came up with this enlightening letter entitled: An Open Letter of the Filipino Youth to the Catholic Church. Written in May 31, 2018, it was presented
to the CBCP General Assembly last July 2018 and later, in the National Conference of Youth Ministers on September 10-14, 2018. This Open Letter capsulizes or brings into a synthesis the response of the Philippine Church to the Year of the Youth and to the challenge raised by the Holy Father. It is an attempt to listen to ‘the story of the Filipino Youth accompanied by our Risen Lord.’
The CBCP-ECY has chosen for its 2019 theme: Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted, Empowered. It has invited all dioceses in the Philippines to accompany their youth as “they listen to Jesus, as they are blessed and gifted during this journey, and empowered to witness to and share their faith”. Following then this theme, the Episcopal Council of the Youth (ECY) has proposed a “roadmap” drawn up by the Youth Council that indicates the four Goals of the Year of the Youth (YoTY):
- The Youth in Formation;
- The Youth in Community, Church and Society;
- The Youth in Mission;
- The Youth Ministry and Youth Ministers,
and the more detailed Pastoral Plan for the 2019 Year of the Youth, enumerating the various monthly programs and activities from December 2, 2018 – December 1, 2019! As such, the Open letter is very substantial and comprehensive in its presentation of the pastoral plan for the Year of the Youth (YoTY). I am hereby encouraging all our diocesan and parish programs and activities to be guided by this plan. Let us take and appropriate whatever is good in the detailed plan.
The Diocesan Theme for the Year of the Youth (YoTY):
May I propose that our diocesan theme for 2019 be taken from the CBCP- ECY Theme: Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted, Empowered. May we challenge our youth to discover their calling as God’s beloved, blessed and broken – empowered as builders of the Christian faith.
Finally, as we enter the Year of the Youth, let us be guided by the simple prayer of the Holy Father in line with the XV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in Rome last 0ctober 3-28, 2018. Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, in journeying towards the Year of the Youth, your Church turns her attention to all the young people of the world. We pray that they might boldly take charge of their lives, aim for the most beautiful and profound things of life and always keep their hearts unencumbered.
Accompanied by wise and generous guides, help them respond to the call You make to each of them, to realize a proper plan of life and achieve happiness. Keep their hearts open to dreaming great dreams and make them concerned for the good of others.
Like the Beloved Disciple, may they stand at the foot of the Cross, to receive Your Mother as a gift from You. May they be witnesses to Your Resurrection and be aware that You are at their side as they joyously proclaim You as Lord. Amen
St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.
St. Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.
St Pedro Calunsod, pray for us.
St. John Bosco, pray for us.
St. John Paul II, pray for us.
MOST REV. JESSE E. MERCADO, D.D.
Bishop of Parañaque
25 November 2018
Solemnity of Christ the King