European Congress on Catechesis Focuses on the Youth

Archbishop Vincent Nichols Opens Congress With Words on Evangelization, Year of Faith

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By Ann Schneible

ROME, MAY 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The search for new and creative means of helping young people grow in knowledge of the Catholic faith is driven by the call to be part of the New Evangelization.

The objective of the European Congress on Catechesis, which is taking place this week, is to reflect upon the evangelization of young people from the ages of 7-16 within the context of the upcoming Year of Faith. The Congress is organized by the “Catechesis, School and University” Commission, and promoted by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE). Nearly 70 participants are expected to attend, including bishops, directors of national offices and groups responsible for catechesis within the bishops’ conferences of Europe.

The Congress began with an address delivered by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) Commission for Catechesis, Schools and Universities.

Taking into consideration the Congress' theme, the Archbishop explained, the Church is aware that She is being summoned to engage in a new evangelization. It is new both "because there is a need for fresh vigor and imagination," and because there are so many who have never head the invitation of the Gospel."

Europe is in particular need of this renewed evangelization. This is because "Europe is, in a particular sense, the focus of so much tension between the summons of the Gospel and the call of a way of life which is seen, understood, developed and lived without any reference to the reality of God whatsoever."

It is in this context, Archbishop Nichols said, that "young people meet in so many circumstances, sometimes within their life at home. It is the air they breathe."

"Many young people," said the archbishop, "are filled with an instinctive generosity, an intuitive sense of hope and a desire to know and discover the underlying patterns and purpose of their existence and their experiences. These aspirations," he continued, "are a source of great hope to us all. They are evidence, if we need it, that the truths about our humanity expressed in the gift of our teaching are indeed valid and enduring."

It is significant that the congress takes place just a few months before the Year of Faith begins. One of the objectives of this year is to explore new initiatives for helping "people to deepen their knowledge of the faith in the Church." This knowledge is important, the archbishop went on to say, as "it recalls that our faith is essentially a revealed religion, a gift for us to receive, explore, understand, and come to enter ever more deeply."