Cardinal Ribat moderator for the Synod on Youth
Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb
What does this appointment as Moderator of the Synod mean for you?
‘The appointment as one of the Moderators of the Synod came to me as a surprise. However, it has given me an opportunity to reflect on how I can channel the voices of young people from across the world and more especially the voices of our young people from our beloved country Papua New Guinea’.
What are the issues our young people face in Papua New Guinea?
‘Papua New Guinea has a population of 8.42 million people. One third of the population are young people that are between the ages of 15 to 25 years. Our young people are moving on according to the ‘spirit of our time’. We need to understand them and the issues that they face in their world today. The meaning of life, the possibility to be educated, the struggle for a job, the need for an enhancing relationship – are issues that our young people are constantly facing in our country today. As a church, we need to journey with our young people and guide them as they strive to live out their faith amidst dominating leaders and an overpowering culture. Our young people are in search of credible witnesses in the government and in the church. They need support, encouragement and a direction’.
What can you say about the faith of our young people?
‘Faith is something that touches every person at the deepest level. It is wonderful to see young people participate fully and joyfully in choir, music and dance on several occasions. They give of their best and do it with commitment and zeal. It is a challenge for us to ensure that they celebrate their faith not only on occasions, but on a regular basis all throughout the year. As church personnel, we need to organize programs and activities at different levels that will help them grow in their villages, parishes and in their dioceses. Their faith should not be limited to music and dance at liturgical celebrations, but we need to guide them and provide them opportunities to understand and organize sacramental and liturgical celebrations. Opportunities for prayer, vibrant liturgical celebrations and youthful spiritual experiences through retreats and youthful spiritual celebrations enable them encounter the Lord in their lives. Two issues confront them – the need to care for their parents and their families and the Christian understanding of their traditional culture.
I see young people as generous and open to the religious and priestly vocation. However, they are in search of committed ‘Good Shepherds’ who will journey with them and help them discern God’s will for them in their lives. Our young people need to be guided into open, respectful and enhancing relationships. We need to help them talk openly about their relationships and be prepared for the committed relationship in the Sacrament of Marriage. Their marriage should be growth promoting and enhancing for themselves and their families.
What can you say about the use of technology today?
Technology is something that we cannot avoid and our young people are immersed in it on a regular basis. They are able to use technology in a variety of ways and I am challenged to teach our young people the ethics of using it wisely and well. Pope Francis reminds us that we need to relate with our family and friends who are at table with us. ‘Do not bring your phone to the table’, he reminds us. May we always use technology to promote and enhance the lives of people.
We congratulate Cardinal Ribat and wish him every success as one of the four moderators of the Synod of Youth.