05 December 2017
Youth Ministry for Refugees
Alongside the preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops and the organization of the National Youth Day, the National Youth Office is committed to offering accompaniment and training in the refugee camps
It is a very busy time for the National Youth Office of the Uganda Bishops’ Conference. We have received news about the efforts being made to collect responses to the Questionnaire prepared by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in view of the forthcoming Ordinary Assembly on “Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment”, and also about the preparations being made for the National Youth Day which will be held in the Diocese of Kabale from 12 to 17 December.
The country’s nineteen dioceses, Catholic and non-Catholic institutions, formation houses, religious congregations, youth movements, and associations have contributed their responses to the Questionnaire. Most of these—already sent to Rome—have come from young Catholics, including young people in employment, those unemployed, students, and youth who do not participate in Church activities.
At the same time, the preparations for the National Youth Day are underway. Young people from neighboring countries—South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, among others—have also been invited to take part. This annual event, guided by the WYD themes (this year's is “The Mighty One has done great things for me”), allows young Ugandans to meet other young people and to talk about their aspirations and experiences of communion and the Church, as well as to engage in the urgent task of the new evangelization.
Alongside these pastoral activities, another field worth noting is that of young refugees. Uganda is one of the countries with the highest number of refugees in the world. Most of them come from South Sudan, but there are also others who come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Somalia. In an attempt to address this issue, the National Youth Office has launched a program called “Pastoral care for refugee youth”. It is a small contribution to help deal with the enormous problems experienced in these camps and to ensure that the Christian message of God’s love may reach them. From the Province of Gulu (Dioceses of Arua, Gulu, Lira, and Nebbi), where there are many new refugee camps, groups composed of clergy, religious and lay facilitators have been sent to visit them regularly. They care for the religious education of young refugees, offer Bible courses, organize prayer meetings, Eucharistic and penitential celebrations, retreats and moments of dialogue... all this is done to provide opportunities for encounters between the different ethnic groups in the camps, among the refugees and with the local communities. Listening and advice are also offered, and games and sports activities are organized as moments of evangelization. They are really doing great work!