Ukraine: the head of the Dicastery’s Youth Office met with Greek Catholic youths

The theological and pastoral value of listening, the theme of Fr. João Chagas' address to the young Ukrainians


From 10 to 13 September, Fr. João Chagas, head of the Youth Office of our Dicastery visited Ukraine and participated in the "Wind of Hope" Youth Festival, promoted by the Youth Ministry Office of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

As explained by Fr. Rostyslav Pendiuk, head of the Youth Ministry office and his assistant, Fr. Roman Demush, for several years the Festival has been "a point of inspiration in planning the process of youth ministry in the different contexts" of the Church in Ukraine. Held for the first time in 2014, in 2020 - due to the pandemic - the Festival was organized online. In this way, however, the Festival was able to reach many more Ukrainian youth and also those scattered throughout various continents.

In addressing the organizers and youth participating in the event, Fr. João Chagas said that his participation in the Festival was intended to be a sign of the presence and accompaniment of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life to the reality of youth in Ukraine, in the sincere desire to be close to them, to walk with them and to listen "on the spot" to the breath of the Spirit in those territories, in the hearts of its people, its young people.

The talk given by the head of the youth office before a group of priests, religious and young people - including many youth ministry leaders - was on the theme “the theological and pastoral value of listening”, an expression taken from the Final Document of Synod of 2018 on “Young people, the faith and vocational discernment”.

Number 6 of the document states that “Listening is the way that God himself relates to his people. God sees the distress of his people and hears their cry; deeply moved, he comes down to deliver them (cf. Ex 3:7-8). The Church, by her listening, enters into the movement of God who, in his Son, draws near to every human being”. Fr. João emphasized how Shema Israel – Hear, O Israel, is commandment number 0, that is, the one that precedes all the other commandments. St. John Paul II said that “the Church has so much to talk about with youth and youth have so much to share with the Church” and, as Pope Francis well reminds us in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, we must be prepared to listen to young people attentively.

Unfortunately, concluded Fr. Chagas, «all too often, there is a tendency to provide prepackaged answers and ready-made solutions, without allowing their real questions to emerge and facing the challenges they pose”. Yet once the Church sets aside narrow preconceptions and listens carefully to the young, this empathy enriches her, for “it allows young people to make their own contribution to the community, helping it to appreciate new sensitivities and to consider new questions» (n. 65).

14 September 2021