Southern Africa’s Catholic Youth Ministry Urged to Reach Out to All Indiscriminately

Youth retreat in South Africa's Johannesburg Archdiocese. Credit: Johannesburg Archdiocese

Those involved in the youth ministry of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) have been urged to reach out to all young people in the Church irrespective of their membership in any Church sodality group.

In a February 18 invitation note to the 1st SACBC young adults conference, the leadership of SACBC youth office said that the Diocesan youth chaplaincy caters for all young people between 13-35 years and when meetings are scheduled, no other church gathering should be planned.

“It has to be noted that the youth ministry of the SACBC and that of the Diocese should seek to minister to all young people irrespective of whether they belong to a sodality or association or movement or not,” SACBC youth leadership says in the invitation note.

SACBC youth officials explained, “The Diocesan Youth Chaplain is responsible for all Young People between 13-35 years of age and when Diocesan Youth gatherings are called on a specific date, no other activities of youth sodalities / associations / movements are to be called either by a Religious Congregation / Deanery or Parish on the same date/s that will bring about poor attendance in a Diocesan gathering.”

In the invitation note for the conference that is scheduled to take place from June 15 - 19 in South Africa’s Pretoria Archdiocese, the leadership of SACBC youth office explains that restriction for other gatherings during this conference of the youth is a call for cooperation since “We do not compete but work together.”


Officials of the SACBC Youth office make reference to the Youth Policy of their entity saying young people are categorized into three segments, which are listed as teenagers whose age is between 13-17 years; the youth whose age bracket is 18-25 years; and lastly the young adults whose age bracket is 26-35 years.

The five-day youth conference seeks to understand the challenges faced by the youth and how best the Church can not only minister to them but also how the challenges can be addressed.

“The SACBC youth ministry felt the need to engage with young adults of all our 29 Dioceses in order to understand their challenges and how the Church can better minister to them. It was felt that a joint gathering with young aged between 13 to 24 years usually does not provide a space for engagement with this group and we always focus on issues of people of a younger age than young adults,” SACBC youth leadership says.

The conference is a response to the plea of the Department for Formation, Life and Apostolate of the Laity, under which the Youth Office of the SACBC falls, to the Bishops at the SACBC Plenary in January where Bishops agreed that the conference be arranged in order to engage with the young adults.

The conference targets between 500 and 600 participants from the three SACBC countries of Botswana, Eswatini and South Africa. The gathering is expect to accommodate all young people who profess the Catholic faith with or without membership to any Church group.

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