Three years ago, I wrote my first column focused on Pope Francis’ message to young people during his 2016 apostolic visit to Mexico.
“They tell us we are the hope for a better world. But who gives us hope?” a young woman asked the pope. He replied that the horrors of the world are no match for Jesus.
Through Jesus, the pope said, “it is possible to believe that life is worth the effort, it is worth giving of your best, to be leaven, salt and light among friends, in neighborhoods, communities and families.”
The message still rings true today. Besides a determination to make the world a better place, many young people try to glorify God with actions and prayers every day.
Most recently at World Youth Day and V Encuentro events, I met young adults and students who are connected to the hopes, worries and dreams of young people, and have a heart for ministry. Their authentic and hopeful opinions, and commitment to their faith and doing God’s will, remind me that the church and the world will be in good hands.
When young people are challenged and trusted, they do great things. I saw an example of this in Taiwan, where Filipino migrant workers in their 20s teamed up with a priest to run different programs at a parish.
Or in the countless stories in Catholic media of young people who want to share God’s love with others by helping those in the peripheries by: reaching out to those who are homeless and hungry, holding marches and prayer vigils, giving their time and resources to help victims of natural disasters, consoling people, connecting and supporting migrants and refugees, and using their talents to help others.
These short three years have marked me and often inspired me.
It is now time to let new voices share a hopeful and inspiring perspectives for young people. In this last column, I want to thank you. Thank you, young people, for your example, witness and creativity in finding solutions. You were a reminder of God’s grace. Your witness gives me hope. Keep striving to be modern-day saints.
Hearing your voices, opinions and initiatives made me admire your resilience, maturity, honesty and hopeful take on life, even amid hardships.
A Venezuelan pilgrim attending a catechesis at World Youth Day Panama had a message of hope for the youth of the world. “At the most difficult moment of your life, be thankful for your life,” he said. “That experience would make you greater as a person, it is going to strengthen you, give you hope, give you the will to fight for your future.”
While researching, I also learned of older “everyday” saints: the professionals who dedicate themselves to serve young people — counselors, youth ministers, mental health professionals, mentors and friends — who listen to young people and support them in their journey to adulthood.
Each column helped me grow in one way or another. This column also pushed me to make time to truly be there for younger relatives — even when we live far apart.
It also made me face some issues and old wounds that had not healed as well as I had thought — but revisiting this pushed me to reach out for help to start a true process of healing. So, thank you.
I’m grateful to have been able to share what limited insight I can with regards on issues affecting teens today.
May you continue to know the presence of God in your journey. I’ll be praying and rooting for you. God bless.
Negro Chin is bilingual associate editor at Maryknoll Magazine.