Let No one Despise the Youths; Support them for a Better Society – Bishop Okpaleke

. . Sues for Proper Youth Formation

By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba

Abishop of the Holy Catholic Church, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, has stressed the need for proper formation of the youths, saying that once the youths are properly formed, the society would be better.

Bishop Okpaleke, who stated this in his homily for the 2019 Annual Chrism Mass and Cathedraticum of Nimo Catholic Region, at Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church, Nimo, Njikoka L.G.A, Anambra State on April 17, 2019, described as unfortunate, the fact that vices such as robbery, kidnapping, and others were associated with the youths.

The Catholic Bishop, who quoted the Message of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis at the closing Mass for the 34th World Youth Day (WYD) Celebration at Panama, on January 27, 2019, described the youths as the “Now of God”, and the hearts of the youths, as divine ground.

According to the pope’s message to the youths, ‘We cannot just say that the young people are the future of our world. They are the present. The youths are the now of God, the now of the Church and the now of society. For Jesus, there is no meantime, He is not an interval in life or a passing fad. He is a generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves.

The young people should not be paralysed by fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation, but rather, to recognize the concrete, close and real love of Jesus. We are on a journey, you the young people should keep walking, keep living the faith and sharing it. And do not forget that you are not the tomorrow, you are not the meantime, you are the Now of God’.

Bishop Okpaleke charged parents and leaders in positions of authority in society to come up with programmes and strategies for the better formation of the youths. This was even as he thanked God that the Catholic Diocese of Awka was on the same page with the Church in the mission for the proper formation of the youths.

The bishop, who cited the 2019 Lenten Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, titled, “Let No One Despise You For Your Youth” (I Tim 4:12): Upholding and Harnessing the Spiritual and Moral Luster of Young People for the Benefit of All”, said the parents, priests and everyone should learn to listen to the voice of the young people. He maintained that no matter how bad the situation was, there was always something good from the youths.

He stressed the need for the youths to be given opportunities to take up important responsibilities in the Church and the society. According to Bishop Okpaleke, a well-trained youth could serve as a vice chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council and a young engineer could serve as a chairman of the Building Committee in the Church, and could also serve as a commissioner in the state.

Bishop Okpaleke, who cited No 100 of the pastoral letter maintained that the priests in parishes should prove themselves the ideal leaders in the effort for proper youth formation. The priests should also ensure full, active and conscious involvement of the youths in the parish catechetical programmes.

He advised the youths against being discouraged with the thoughts that they did not have anything to offer for the good of the Church and society. But instead, assured that God, the bishop and the priests loved them, and heaven would not abandon them once they do the right thing.

The bishop, who further based his reflections in Proverb 22, from verse 6, Proverb 19, from verse 8 and Sirach 22:3-6 (it is a disgrace to be a father of an undisciplined son..) in the Holy Bible, berated parents who did not train their children well.

Citing No 69 of the Bishop’s Lenten Pastoral, Bishop Okpaleke noted that the youths had the responsibility to submit themselves to good formation in character, morals and spirituality, in their homes, the Church and in the school. He likened the teachings of the parents and the Church to the youths to the same manner Samuel followed the advice of Eli and listened to the voice of God in I Samuel 3:9.

The eloquent preacher likened the importance of proper formation of the children in the ways of God to the importance of breast milk to the babies. Basing his reflections further on No 70 of Bishop Ezeokafor’s 2019 Lenten Pastoral Letter, the homilist emphasized the foundational role of the family in the formation of children and the extra-ordinary power it has in shaping the lives of the children.

He identified family rosary as an ingredient necessary for the proper formation of the children and sustenance of the family. According to Bishop Okpaleke family rosary was very vital for proper nurturing, protection and upliftment of the family.