Youth in South Africa Challenged to Be Spiritual, Moral, Economic “activists”

Bishop Duncan Theodore Tsoke of South Africa’s Kimberley Catholic Diocese. Credit: Sacred Photos ZA/Sheldon Reddiar

A Catholic Bishop in South Africa has challenged the youth in the country to be “activists” from spiritual, moral, and economic perspectives.

In his homily shared with ACI Africa on June 24, Bishop Duncan Theodore Tsoke acknowledged the important place the youth have in the Church.

Bishop Tsoke who was addressing the youth in Africa on the annual event of the International Day of the African Child (DAC) that is known as the National Youth Day in South Africa where the event was born recalled the birth of the June 16 commemoration.

“We are celebrating the youth of 1976 who became activists and contributed to the end of apartheid. Today, I would like to challenge you to become activists, but of a different type,” the South African Catholic Bishop said about the event, which the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union (AU), initiated in 1991.

The Local Ordinary of South Africa’s Kimberley Diocese added, “In the Church, we need young people who are spiritual activists, ethical activists, and economic activists.”


He went on to explain how to be “a spiritual activist”. He said, “The Gospel of Mark tells us that a young man ran up to Jesus, knelt before Him and started a conversation with Him. This person is young like you. He is interested in Jesus. He wants to be close to Jesus. He wants to chat with Jesus.”

“That is being a spiritual activist. We need a lot of young people who, like this young man, want to be close friends with Jesus,” Bishop Tsoke told the young people who gathered at St. Boniface Galeshewe Catholic Parish of Kimberley Diocese on June 16. 

To be spiritual activists, the Bishop told the young people who were participating in the five-day Diocesan youth camp that concluded on June 19, “I would like to challenge you as the youth in our Diocese to become youth who attend the Sunday Eucharist every Sunday so that you can meet Jesus.”

“Young People are the strength of the church. The Church needs you-Our beloved country desperately needs you”, said Bishop Tsoke during the youth camp organized as part of DAC 2022 whose theme is, “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”.

He encouraged the youth to organize regular activities together at the level of Parishes saying, “Youth ministry is one of the most important ministries in our diocese. I will be glad if we become a diocese where each parish has a strong and vibrant youth group that meets on a regular basis.”

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“I would like to challenge every parish to organize a youth mass at least once every three months where the youth can, like the young man in the Gospel today, come and talk to Jesus as young people,” the Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry as Auxiliary Bishop of Johannesburg in April 2016 further said.

Calling upon young people to be ethical activists, he said, “We need young people who can be ethical activists or moral activists. In the Gospel, we read how Jesus is challenging the rich young man to become a moral activist, but the rich young man gets disappointed and leaves Jesus.”

“A moral activist is the one who is challenging the values of our society,” the 58-year-old Bishop said. 

He explained, “Like the young man in the Gospel, we are growing up in what we call a materialistic society. A materialistic society tells us that you can be happy only if you have a lot of money and you are able to buy a lot of expensive things, expensive clothes, expensive cell phones, and expensive cars.”

“Jesus always reminds us that you can be happy only if you have found God as a treasure hidden in your heart and you accept Jesus as your savior,” Bishop Tsoke who has been at the helm of Kimberley Diocese since April 2021 said.


He challenged the youth to reexamine the origin of their happiness and foster moral activism.

“The source of happiness is not out there in the things that we buy and possess, it is in what is happening in our hearts. I would therefore like to challenge you to become a moral activist, to become young people who challenge the values of our society”, the Bishop said.

In his homily, he also called on young people to help rebuild South Africa by becoming economic and political activists under God’s guidance.

“I would like to ask you to become economic and political activists,” he said, and explained, “Our country needs a new generation of political and economic activists like prophet Jeremiah, activists who like Prophet Jeremiah can announce to South Africa that God has a plan to make South Africa an economic giant in the world.”

The challenge in South Africa, Bishop Tsoke said, “is that, because of greed, the political and business leaders are busy destroying and obstructing God's plan.”

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He went on to challenge the youth to “to learn and know more about the Catholic Social Teaching”, and singled out teachings “about the dignity of work, the strong belief that we are called to participate in the life of God as the Creator.” 

“I know that our society has generated a box and we want to think inside box,” the Catholic Bishop said, and continued, “The teaching about the dignity of work challenges young people to think outside the boxes that the society has built for young people. We need a new generation of young people who think outside the box.”

A new generation of young people is one that is not afraid to create “small businesses”, he said, adding that young people in this new generation “do not always wait for other people to employ them.”

“We need a new generation of young people who are not afraid to produce their own good in family gardens and feed themselves, and do not always wait for the commercial farmers and the shopping malls to provide them with food,” he said.

Such lack of fear, he said, is based on the belief that “God did not create you as a consumer.  God created you solely as a producer, as somebody to participate in His life as the Creator.”

Bishop Tsoke continued, “We need a new generation of young people who are passionate to learn artisanal skills, and do not always focus on getting academic degrees in our universities which will not land them into jobs.”

“We need a new generation of young people who do not sit down and wait for government’s social grants. God created you as co-creators, and not as consumers of social grants,” he emphasized.

He concluded, “Be assured that you are always in my prayers. Please, pray for me as well. May our Lady welcome all of you as our Mother and teach you how to place your trust in the victory of the Risen Lord. Amen.”

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.