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Called to faith at Catholic youth gathering

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For The Dialog

Young people discover how church ‘relates to your life’ at national conference

Ania Zdunek seems like someone who would recognize God’s presence about her in her everyday life, since she attends a private Catholic high school.

But the Archmere Academy senior from St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Wilmington realized that she did not always see God as part of her everyday life when she attended the National Catholic Youth Conference last week in Indianapolis. “Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge God in everyday life,” she said. Read more »

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When the pope listens: He’s practicing his ‘apostolate of the ear’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis goes to Poland to meet with an expected 2 million young people from around the world, he’s going with a firm idea of the dreams, fears and challenges so many of them face. Read more »

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Jesus is the hope of young people who are the wealth of Mexico, pope says

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Catholic News Service

MORELIA, Mexico —Jesus never sends anyone out as a hitman, dealing in death, but calls Christians to be his disciples and friends, Pope Francis told Mexico’s youth.

Young people cheer as Pope Francis leads a meets with them at the Jose Maria Morelos Pavon Stadium in Morelia, Mexico, Feb. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Young people cheer as Pope Francis leads a meets with them at the Jose Maria Morelos Pavon Stadium in Morelia, Mexico, Feb. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Today the Lord continues to call you, he continues to draw you to him, just as he did with the Indian, Juan Diego,” to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, he told tens of thousands of young people at Morelia’s Jose Maria Morelos Pavon Stadium Feb. 16.

Dozens of young people carried flags representing every diocese of Mexico present in the packed stadium or watching on big screens set up in a field outside. The pope not only greeted those present in Morelia but also thousands of Mexican youths following the event live from Guadalajara.

Echoing his words to government authorities earlier in the week, the pope reminded the youths that they are the wealth of Mexico and of the church.

“A mountain can have rich minerals that will serve humanity’s progress; that is its wealth. But it only turns into wealth when the miners who take out the minerals work on it. You are the wealth, and you must be transformed into hope,” the pope said, in one of several departures from his prepared speech.

However, Pope Francis recognized the difficulties of recognizing one’s value when material wealth, fashion and prestige become symbols of one’s worth.

“The biggest threat is when a person feels that they must have money to buy everything, including the love of others. The biggest threat is to believe that by having a big car you will be happy,” he said

The pope said belief in Jesus is a sure source of hope and can help youths fight back against the influence of drug dealers “or others who do nothing but sow destruction and death.”

“It is Jesus Christ who refutes all attempts to render you useless or to be mere mercenaries of other people’s ambitions,” he said.

Jesus is the one word of hope that can help young people live fully and do their best for their friends, neighborhoods and communities, he said. While faith may not give them “the latest car model” or “pockets filled with money,” it brings the experience of being loved, embraced and accompanied, which “no one can take away.”

Departing yet again from his speech, the pope recalled a song often sung by mountain climbers.

“While they climb, they sing: ‘In the art of ascending, the victory isn’t in not falling, but in not remaining fallen,’” he said.

The young can be certain that Jesus always will stretch out a hand to help them up, he said. Sometimes he “sends you a brother or sister to speak to you and help you. Don’t hide your hand when you’ve fallen. Don’t tell him: ‘Don’t look at me because I’m all dirty, don’t look at me because I have no hope.’ Just reach out your hand and hold onto his.”

In turn, a young Christian must “stretch out your hand” to help others in Jesus’ name, particularly with “listening-therapy.”

“Let them speak, let them talk. And little by little, they’ll start stretching out their hand and you will help them in Jesus’ name. But if you go in one shot and start preaching, and hitting them over and over , you leave the poor guy worse than he was before,” he said.

Pope Francis urged young Mexicans to remember: “You are the wealth of this country, and when you doubt this, look to Jesus, who destroys all efforts to make you useless or mere instruments of other people’s ambitions.”

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Pope Francis urges youth, young adults to read a ‘dangerous book’ — the Bible

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said his Bible is old, beat up and worth more to him than anything money can buy.

“If you saw my Bible, you would not be impressed,” he wrote to young people. “You’d say, ‘What? This is the pope’s Bible? A book so old, so beat up?’ You might even want to give me a gift of a new one, something that costs 1,000 euro. But I don’t want it.” Read more »

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From butcher to Jesuit: Pope talks to homeless man about his youth, commitment to poor

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Inundated with requests from major media outlets around the world, Pope Francis chose to sit down for an interview with a homeless man who makes his living selling newspapers in Netherlands.

The pope said he wanted to grow up to be a butcher when he was a child in an interview with a homeless vendor that was published this week.  (CNS file/Debbie Hill))

Pope Francis said he wanted to grow up to be a butcher when he was a child in an interview with a homeless vendor that was published this week. (CNS file/Debbie Hill))

The pope met with 51-year-old Marc, who was accompanied by Frank Dries, the Straatnieuws newspaper’s editor; Stijn Fen, a journalist; and Jan-Willem Wits, the former spokesman of the Dutch bishops’ conference. The interview, which took place at the Vatican Oct. 27, was published Nov. 6.

The interview began with a question about the pope’s early days in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio would often sneak out of his home to play soccer with his classmates. The pope admitted that although he loved to play, he wasn’t exactly a star athlete.

“In Buenos Aires, those who played soccer like me were called ‘pata dura,’ which means ‘having two left feet.’ I played; I was the goalie many times,” he said.

The pope’s personal commitment to those in need was also rooted in his childhood, he said, recalling the poor Italian woman who worked as his family’s housekeeper. Her poverty, he said, “struck me” and his mother often gave her necessities that she lacked for her own family.

The woman eventually went back to Italy and returned to Argentina many years later when the pope was archbishop of Buenos Aires.

“I accompanied her until she died at 93 years old. One day she gave me a Sacred Heart of Jesus medal that I carry with me every day,” the pope said, adding that it serves as a daily reminder of how she and many others suffer due to poverty.

When asked if he fears that people will grow tired of his defense of the poor and of refugees, the pope noted that while he does feel that some may be tired of it, “it does not scare me. I must continue to speak the truth and how things are.”

“It is my duty, I feel it inside me. It is not a commandment, but as people, we all must do it,” he said.

Pope Francis stressed that the church must also be “a witness of poverty,” but there are also temptations to lead by words alone and not by deeds. “If a believer speaks about poverty or the homeless and lives the life of a pharaoh: this cannot be done,” he said.

He also warned against the dangers of corruption in both political and religious life, recalling that during the Falklands War with Great Britain, many people, including Catholics, would take home the food and supplies they had been tasked with distributing to others.

“It is corruption: a piece for me and another piece for me,” he said.

Regarding the fact that, as pontiff, he is confined “like a prisoner in the Vatican,” the pope was asked if he had a desire to switch places with a homeless person.

The pope compared his life to the Mark Twain classic, “The Prince and the Pauper,” saying that while the prince lacks nothing and even has friends, he still lives in a “gilded cage.”

Asked if he ever dreamed of becoming pope, Pope Francis replied with a categorical “no,” adding that as a child, he had very different aspirations.

He said, “I would go grocery shopping with my mother and grandmother. I was very small, I was 4 years old. And once they asked me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I answered, ‘A butcher!’”

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Ministry to youth, young adults launches ‘game changer’ to keep young people in church

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For The Dialog

 

A new approach to youth ministry will help parishes find ways to engage young people into parish life so they don’t drift away from the church.

The effort seeks to reverse a trend toward less church involvement among young people by helping them come to think of their local church as their spiritual home, said Patrick Donovan, director of the Office for Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry (CYM). Two factors he cited toward reaching that goal are to find ways for young people to be involved in the parish and to ensure connections that let them know they would be missed if they were to leave. Read more »

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