Caritas staff gather at World Youth Day
Written by Mary Moeono-Kolio
Despite threats of terrorism and violence, the young people of Caritas Internationalis and World Youth Day pilgrims gathered in St. Joseph Church in the Bienczyce area of Krakow, Poland in July.
Cardinal Tagle gave the key address and called on young people to bring love to a world being torn apart by violence and indifference. He offered words of condolence to a small French contingent at the church for the death of Father Jacques Hamel (age 85), who was murdered in July by terrorists while celebrating Mass in a Normandy church.
His Eminence encouraged the youth of Caritas to “discover the grace of youth and your capacity to dream ... God is calling you to use your youth for the service of other people!” Cardinal Tagle stressed the importance of understanding that because God is love, the work and mission of Caritas is love, and if Caritas is love, love must become the lifestyle of Caritas youth.
This event also highlighted the work of the Caritas network across the globe. Among the guest speakers were Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Community Supporter Liaisons Joe Moeono-Kolio (Auckland and Hamilton Dioceses) and Joanna Viernes (Wellington and Palmerston North Dioceses), who spoke about the role of youth across the Pacific in responding to current issues.
“Our programme is to develop student skills to analyse social justice issues from a Catholic social teaching perspective,” Viernes said.
“We want to inspire young people.”
Caritas has also prioritised climate change as a pressing issue requiring immediate action. Joe Moeono-Kolio stressed the need for communities to work together to address the dire reality facing the people of the Pacific at risk of losing their homes, island, and cultures.
“The examples of the many peoples in the Pacific who are fighting this fight offers hope, but we cannot do it alone without the big boys putting in their fair share of work.”
Similarly, Daniel Hale of CAFOD (Caritas England and Wales) shared that the youth can contribute to the work of the Caritas network by joining advocacy and education campaigns and spreading word of the agency’s work on social and environmental justice in their parishes.
“Our time is now! Our planet and its people face monumental changes. We are the first generation to really understand climate change, and the last generation who can do anything about it.”