"The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has announced a ‘Year of Youth’ commenced on the First Sunday of Advent, 3 December 2017 until 25 November 2018, focused on the engagement and faith development of young people aged 12 – 30 year olds. The theme for the Year of Youth is ‘Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy. Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment,’” wrote Mons Timothy Costelloe, Salesian, Archbishop of Perth in a recent pastoral letter.
“I am also asking parish and communities to engage a ‘Year of Youth Action Team’ – made up of a variety of adults and young people in your community to prepare activities for the Year of Youth. (…) I also encourage young people (aged 12 – 30) to step forward to become ‘Year of Youth Ambassadors’ in their local communities. They can be a voice and advocate for the initiatives of the ‘Year of Youth Action Team.’”
“In this year,” continues Mons Costello, “we hope to come together to engage with more young people in our Church. We need to spend these next twelve months as local communities, working together across Parishes, High Schools, University Chaplains... (…) Beyond the sacrament of Confirmation, we need to support them [the young people] and nourish their spiritual life across our whole Church community. Even if you have only a limited number of young people involved in your church, perhaps this could be your opportunity to ask parishioners to invite their children and grandchildren to the church or also to reach out to the Catholic schools nearby and getting them involved in your local parish.”
The Perth archdiocese is also happy to host the next Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) in December 2019. This event was announced few weeks ago in Sydney, the venue of the 2017 ACYF.
It is worth noting that the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (PNG-IS) has decided to dedicate 2018 to young people, pointing out in the letter of induction of the year several concrete examples for Youth Ministry, which take up themes typical of Salesian reflection, such as the connection between Family and Youth Ministry and attention to young people outside the school system.
The population of PNG-IS is composed mostly of young people, many of whom are Christians and many benefit from Salesian accompaniment.