Dialogue, reconciliation, and healing of relations between the youth, the clergy, and parents are needed in Kokstad Diocese, says Bishop Thulani Victor Mbuyisa.
Over 500 youth from Kokstad Diocese and neighbouring Dioceses gathered at St Patrick’s Cathedral on the feast day of St Joseph the worker for the first Bishop’s Open Day with Young People. Staying in line with the Synod on Synodality which emphasizes “journeying together and listening to one another,” the encounter was an opportunity for young people to have an open dialogue with their Bishop, and “was also an opportunity for them to get to know one another.”
“This was my very first encounter with the young people of our Diocese, as a new Bishop in the Diocese. I certainly did not expect such a huge turnout… those who were responsible for the organization. said there were some 500 plus. That’s a huge turnout, especially knowing that this was the very first encounter with the young people,” says Bishop Mbuyisa.
According to the Local Ordinary of Kokstad Diocese, some of the young people were “reluctant about sharing, but as the day progressed, they became more open and bolder and really spoke from the heart.” Bishop Mbuyisa notes that “there’s a need for more dialogue, for reconciliation and healing,” and that the Church in Kokstad Diocese needs “to make more use of the sacraments for healing.”
The ‘Bishop’s Open Day with Young People’, gave young people an opportunity to speak openly about issues faced in their “communities, neighborhoods and in parishes.”
Participants at the gathering addressed challenges faced at Church, and at home as well as social issues related to “crime, high unemployment rate, especially among the Youth and graduates, gender-based violence, kidnapping, and human trafficking, early teenage pregnancy, prostitution, and AmaBlessers (rich older men), bullying, corruption, and the impact of load-shedding (power cuts),” says Bishop Mbuyisa.
The issue of lapsed young Catholics was also addressed as the youth in Kokstad Diocese expressed concern about fellow youth not attending Church and “leaving the Church”, says Bishop Mbuyisa.
Young people in Kokstad Diocese “feel they don’t count and have no voice and are never trusted with leadership responsibility. They are concerned about the lack of vocations to the priesthood and religious life… and have asked for workshops on the Liturgy,” he adds.
According to Bishop Mbuyisa the Diocese will work towards the establishment of structures that will “coordinate all youth programmes,” and will “invest in our Youth… avail finances, space for them to exercise leadership, etc.”