Sitting around the table (and the donuts!) are the young people who took part in the evening. Next to me is Nathan who is the leader of the core group of CYA in Regina. And in the back as well, Fr. Brian Meredith, the Rector of the Cathedral and Fr. Neil Osiowy the Diocesan Driector of Vocations.
We talked about how we are called to be witnesses of the Good News of Jesus to those around us. How do we do this when most of the people around us do not practice any faith? Some ideas we shared focused on the example that we give. People who know us know how we behave, what we think is right or wrong, how we treat others and so on. We witness by showing our honesty, our joy, our patience, our self control. And all the other "Fruits of the Spirit" within us that St. Paul spoke of in his Letter to the Galatians. These are things of good news to a world around us that can be tainted with dishonesty, with selfish use of other people and a pervasive lack of moral restraint not only in one's sexuality but also in other powers and appetities we have. We find true happiness when we follow the teachings of Jesus, and that happiness shown in our lives is what will draw others to a fuller and more deeply happy human life.
The subject of marriage and family was also discussed. We talked about the purpose of our sexuality in the teaching of the Church. That sexual love finds its true place only in the loving and faithful commitment of marriage. Conjugal love has two goals: the procreation of children and the deepening of the bond of love between husband and life. Thus children are born into a stable environment of love and fidelity which is their greates security in which to grow and learn.
I always enjoy my meetings with the C'YA group. Our young people are a very important part of our faith community. They can be like lights burning in the darkness for their peers in our very secular and consumeristic world. There is a great malaise and lack of hope that afflicts a troubling number of our youth and young adults. Jesus brings light to our darkness and hope in times of emptiness or difficulty. What a gift our Catholic young people have to bring to our world!
During our meeting I shared how overwhelmingly moved I was by the young people who attended World Youth Day in Sydney. Over 220,000 people registered for World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. At the beginning of the week of World Youth Day, the Australian secular press was very negative and critical of the event. By the end of the week, they could not say enough good about the event and the youth who descended on the city of Sydney. The young people by the simple witness of their faith and a conduct based on their integrity and beliefs moved a whole country.
This is my favourite picture of world youth day. I took it on the day the Holy Father, Pope Benedict arrived to greet the pilgrims. They are a few of the 225,000 people who were there to greet and cheer and be with Pope Benedict. What I see in this picture is the energy, the openess, the enthusiasm and the joy of our Catholic young people. This can be a tremendously powerful force in the Church for the good of all people in the world. We need our young people to be visible and active in our parishes for our parishes to be fully healthy and alive.
If I may add this aside: Here as well are those of us from our Archdiocese who joined with Prince Albert Diocese for this pilgrimage of World Youth Day.
In the back row is Harmony Landgraf, Melanie Giambattista and Kristen Schneider along with Fr. Danilo Rafael, Rob Twa our Diocesan Youth Director and myself. There were three young people who went with CCO, Eric and Emily Lautsch and Kenna Nelson and also two who went on their own, Marijo Cayer and Emily Mann.
The next World Youth Day will be in 2011 and will take place in Madrid, Spain. It is my great hope that we will have at least 100 if not twice that who will prepare for and travel to this great gathering of Catholic Youth.
I am delighted to have had this meeting with CYA in Regina and to be able to spend time with and encourage our young Catholic people in our Archdiocese of Regina. I look forward to many other opportunities of spending time with them not only in Regina but throughout the diocese.