There can be no Church without you, just as there can be no New Zealand without you.
We want you to know this, in case there is some doubt in your minds about just where you fit in, or whether you have a real part to play in our Catholic family.
Growing up in a society that throws away more than it keeps, you may feel uneasy about any sort of commitment.
Yet it is precisely here that we see your greatest strength.
YOU are the Catholics of the new generation, and you are in a unique position to understand, help and challenge the young people of New Zealand.
Each of you CAN do something;
- Counselling and helping young people in trouble
- Involving yourself in the labour union which represents your own particular work
- Deepening and personalising your faith through study and prayer beyond the security and discipline your school days may have offered
- Developing leadership skills in ways that will help you minister to your own age group
- Taking a greater part in the liturgical life of your local faith community by sharing your creative talents in music, composition, or by helping younger Catholics prepare for those sacraments you already celebrate
- Maintaining contact with school friends and taking an interest in the welfare of the younger set through association with past-students' groups, sports clubs, worker associations, social groups
- Making a commitment of one or two years in the voluntary service of the Church community, working either in your profession (e.g. teaching, nursing, building, social worker etc.) or in some other designated area of need
- Giving serious consideration to the total commitment of your life in the service of God's people as a priest or religious brother or sister.
Within your own town, parish, or work community there will be many situations calling for positive Christian leadership.
DON'T let any past experience of parish worship or community programmes that may have left you bored or frustrated, block your discovery of new, fulfilling possibilities.
Your Christian heritage empowers you to open your generation- which holds the world of the future in its hands - to the life-giving Spirit of Jesus.
Jesus, the God-man, invites you to let yourself be "captured" by Him, putting an end to mediocrity, lukewarmness and aimlessness.
He calls you to unmask slogans, false values, empty promises; not to shut yourselves up in attitudes of revolt and violence, nor to be content with a cry of helplessness- the ultimate cop-out "I CAN'T DO ANYTHING."
Wherever you find empty or embittered lives, soured relationships, fear of commitment, anxiety, or even DESPAIR you will find a yearning for life- even in the presence of decay and death.
You are needed to be that life-spark to the young people and everyone around you. Take your light from Christ, becoming what is expressed in the M‰ori phrase "Te Ahi K‰" - the flame that warms, the sense of belonging that lights the way, that enkindles hope.
We believe that young people have a very special ministry to youth. But at the same time, we stress that this work is the responsibility of the whole Church family.
So we stand with you.
We commend the many initiatives that are already being taken in the various dioceses. We want to ensure that even greater resources are provided to assist the training of youth leaders. We want to impress upon Church workers at all levels of involvement, but especially parish leaders, that you, the young adults in our Christian family, must be given a voice and a place in Church affairs.
No age group can stand alone; no interest group can work in isolation from community support.
PRAYER which builds faith, MUTUAL RESPECT which enables the blending of differences, and LOVE which opens the whole person to the existence and appreciation of others are the forces that will bind us together.
Your involvement is necessary if the faith of our religious family is to be renewed.
But, with your help, we also believe our own country can be led to a new awareness of God.
You are already the living force of our country's future. You are the ones who are going to decide what New Zealand will be.
For this reason, we feel we must challenge you. We dare to hope that your contribution to that future will be distinctive - But it will be so only if you come to discover why Christians have wanted to centre their lives around the person of Jesus Christ, to the point of living for Him and even dying for Him.
It is important to appreciate that our relationship with Jesus Christ is unfinished if it does not lead us to make this world a better one.
The Church calls us to that "change of heart" that changes attitudes and relationships, and even the social, economic and political institutions which embody human relationships.
We challenge you to make a specifically Christian and Catholic contribution to the future, by reaching beyond all the partial humanism and partial liberations that characterise mere ideologies.
A true and full humanism is that which is built on God's own plan for human beings and human life. The Church was born in the shadow of the Cross and the mystery of the Cross remains always part of the fabric of Christian living.
Knowing this is helpful, because being a "life-spark" for any ideal demands courage and sacrifice.
You will not be able to right all the wrongs you encounter, and your efforts for the Gospel of Jesus will bring you to Calvary. But you travel in the sure hope that Jesus is the peace the world yearns for- a peace which only His death on the Cross makes possible.
With faith in Jesus Christ, fearlessly confront the life situations His love has still to touch, working with the confidence of those who know that beyond the dark and pain of Calvary is the joy of discovering an empty tomb.
There's a popular song called "The Rose". Some of the thoughts we find there are relevant:
It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes a chance.
It's the one who can't be taken
Who cannot seem to give.
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live.
How close these thoughts are to the dream of one of the Church's great saints - the young man, Francis of Assisi:
IT IS IN GIVING THAT WE RECEIVE,
IT IS IN FORGIVING THAT WE ARE FORGIVEN
AND IT IS IN DYING THAT WE ARE BORN TO ETERNAL LIFE.
This is the challenge before all who call themselves Christian.
It is one in which you, our young Christs, are especially skilled to share, for you still know the freshness of youthful ideals uncluttered by the mistakes and disappointments that often blur and narrow the gaze of older family members.
Thank you for your enthusiasm, your honesty, and for your questions which help to remind us, your Bishops, that we are servants whose only duty is to bring you to the Lord,
With Jesus who came "not to be served, but to serve", we offer this letter to assure you that we are your servants and brothers.
May God, our Father, give you and us together, the strength to speak His message of hope with confidence. May the Holy Spirit, the special friend of those who follow Jesus, be with you. May Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Queen of Apostles, be your gentle and strong guide.
Remember us in prayer, work with us as partners in the Lord's vineyard.
In His Name and in His Love.