To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop” (Mother Teresa)
A Brief History:
The basic thrust of our youth work has been accompanying the young, both Christian and Non-Christian, organized and unorganized, in the process of making the right choices by understanding, analyzing, and responding to the existing reality through discernment and sharing with them the Gospel values in a meaningful way. Youth apostolate was existing from the very beginning of our province. Jesuits were actively guiding the youth both in the educational and social sectors through various associations such as CLC, AICUF, and Youth clubs.
The youth work took a definitive turn when the province appointed Fr. Brian Pereira SJ, as a full time youth coordinator with a fully functioning Youth center at Bengaluru in the year 2009. Then on, youth work has grown by leaps and bounds. Presently, the youth ministry in the province is taken care of by PCYM (Province Commission for Youth Ministry). At present Fr Prashanth Wesley D’Souza SJ is the province youth coordinator. Besides him there are two other Jesuits, Frs. Joy Rodrigues and Pradeep Anthony, put in charge of the Bengaluru and Mangaluru youth work. They look after the youth work of the organized youth in different colleges belonging to their zones. We made a special intervention in reaching out to both organized and unorganized youth of North Karnataka by setting up a youth center in Vidya Niketan, Dharwad in the year 2015 with Fr Edward Philip as its director. Currently Fr Prashanth W. D’Souza SJ is shouldering this responsibility. Thus we have been able to reach out to thousands of youth, conscientizing them and empowering them to lead a value-based life. All these youth works are placed at present under the “KJES (Karnataka Jesuit Educational Society) Youth Works”.
The target groups of our youth work are: Catholic and Christian youth, the Non-Christian youth of our Colleges and other institutions, and unorganized youth of our mission stations, especially from the slums and villages of North Karnataka. We aim at the integral formation of these youth through various activities and programmes with necessary accompaniment and follow-up.
To coordinate the youth work in the Province both in rural and urban sectors – in collaboration with spiritual and pastoral caregivers, NGOs, citizen’s initiative movements, journalists and others.
To assist the Principals/DOWs in offering integral formation programs (“head, heart and hands”) for students studying in our institutions.
To form committed youth leaders (especially in the unorganized sectors)
To organize on-going training programs in youth ministry for youth animators, campus ministers and social workers.
To train “barefoot lawyers/nurses” to work in rural areas.
To coordinate regular out-reach programs for urban youth in rural areas/slums.
Accompanying the Catholic/Christian youth: The AICUF (All India Catholic University Federation) is very active in our Province. We conduct regular spiritual and social programmes, helping them to be youth of God and youth for others. ‘MAGIS’- A youth convention has been organized for the last eight years both at the province and Assistancy levels in line with the World Youth Day. We are happy to place on record that MAGIS has become an Ignatian Youth Movement in South Asia. We are very particular about the social dimension in forming the youth. Catholic as well as non-Christian youth of our institutions are encouraged to reach out to the unorganized youth living in slums and villages. Our youth conduct programs for the unorganized youth on the importance of education, hygiene, career guidance and several other relevant social issues in slums and villages. Through NECCB (North Eastern Catholic Community Bangalore) we provide spiritual and pastoral accompaniment to the tribal and migrant youth of North East region of India living in Bengaluru. We also coordinate with the diocesan youth coordinators in reaching out to the youth in parishes, especially in North Karnataka.
Accompanying College Youth: At the beginning of every academic year, orientation programmes are held for these youth in our educational institutions. Some of the special programmes organized for all the youth, Christian as well as non-Christian, are IGNITORS and YUVA. IGNITORS is a programme conducted for the college-going students, orienting them in values and self-knowledge. YUVA (Youth United for Values and Attitudes) is a special programme conducted for the North Karnataka youth, inculcating in them values and attitudes for harmonious living. These are holistic formation programmes which cover various issues pertaining to the youth and their development.
Accompanying the Unorganized Youth: The unorganized youth are led through a process of awareness of their rights and duties as responsible citizens. Youth clubs are formed in the villages and slums of our mission stations to fight for their rights. Many of these youth are unemployed or do unskilled work. We have been helping them to be skilled through technical education. The twinning programme between a city institution and a mission station has been a success story. The urban students are exposed to the reality of poverty, unemployment and drought and farmers’ issues. We have been training the staff of various high schools and colleges for accompanying the youth. This has been an effective way to reach out to more youth through collaboration and networking. We are focusing on trained counsellors to help the youth in crisis. We also collaborate with like-minded NGO’s and organize issue-based awareness programmes. Much has been done in our province to accompany the young, and much more needs to be done in our youth ministry. There are limitations in our youth work. Follow-up has been one of the main concerns in youth work. Mega events like MAGIS and YUVA need better follow-up structures. At times, non-cooperation by some of the diocesan priests makes our work difficult. It is difficult to motivate college youth as they give more importance to academics than to value-based programmes. It is difficult to sustain the momentum of the unorganized youth as most of them are poor and busy making both ends meet.
The present scenario in our country is quite alarming. Youth, on the one side, are vulnerable to ideologies that divide the nation based on religion, caste and language. There is growing fundamentalism and communalism which target the minorities and the dalits. The unrestrained hate speeches by the right wing Hindu outfits, attacking the very concept of secularism and socialism, undermine constitutional values. Now the mind of the youth is being sought to be poisoned by absurd ideas and outright lies. History is being manufactured. Constitutional values are being undermined. Fascist ideology is being inculcated.
We are happy to know that the Society of Jesus has made accompanying the Young as a universal apostolic priority. Even our province has taken up this as one of its apostolic priorities. Our vision is to create a hope-filled future for these youth especially by inculcating true patriotism and nationalism in our youth who are the future of India.