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Young People in South Africa Urged to Stand Up for Jesus, Justice, Peace on Youth Day

A poster announcing the 2021 Youth Day celebrations in South Africa' Kroonstad Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of South Africa’s Catholic Diocese of Kroonstad has called upon young people in the country to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in their families and society and to stand up for justice and peace ahead of the country’s Youth Day on Wednesday, June 16.

In his message circulated on Monday, June 14, Bishop Peter Holiday urged young people especially in the Diocese of Kroonstad to adhere to the call by Pope Francis who he said has urged the youth to live their Catholic faith in the society. 

“What Pope Francis is saying to our youth is ‘Let your faith as young and beautiful Catholics be shown in your lives in your belief in the resurrection of Jesus Our Lord and Saviour. Be young and proud to be Catholics as witnesses of Jesus in your families, communities and friendships,” the South African Bishop says.

He adds, in reference to Pope Francis' message to the youth, “In other words, have the courage to stand up for Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.”

June 16 is an important day in South Africa when the country commemorates a protest which resulted in a wave of protests across the country known as the Soweto uprising of 1976. It is celebrated as a public holiday across South Africa to remember the brave students who protested against apartheid regime in the country.

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Bishop Holiday explains that the day is marked in the context of 16 June 1976 “when the youth of South Africa stood up and shed their blood for the truth that apartheid must end.”

He calls for celebration of the youth who stood as witnesses against injustice in South Africa, and adds, “I call on the youth of the Diocese to continue to Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and Witness to him in standing for justice and peace.”

“It takes courage to stand up and be active Catholics but this is what Jesus is asking of you,” the Local Ordinary of Kroonstad says, and adds, “This is what Pope Francis is asking of you.”

The Bishop observes that just like last year’s celebrations, the 2021 Youth Day will be celebrated on a smaller scale owing to the COVID-19 devastation.

He urges young people to adhere to safety measures of social distancing, wearing face masks and sanitizing to attend various Church and national Youth Day celebrations despite what has been termed as the country’s COVID-19 third wave.

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“This special day cannot pass in acknowledging the beautiful young people of our country and in a special way the wonderful youth of the Diocese of Kroonstad,” the 69-year-old Catholic Church leader says in his June 14 letter.

He explains, “The Chaplain of the Youth of the Diocese has planned a few activities for the youth to celebrate youth day. I hope that they can take place ever aware of the restrictions and protocols in place due to COVID-19. I call on you to be responsible youths, to wash hands, sanitize, wear a mask and keep social distance in accord with the laws of our country at this very disturbing time in our world.”

The Bishop beseeches the young people not to give up in the face of the challenges that have been presented by the pandemic.

He says, “In the heart of the third wave pandemic when education and other activities are affected we must never lose hope. God has not forgotten us.”

“Jesus’ promise is still true, ‘l am always with you till the end of time.’ Young people let us stand together and pray together for God's healing for our world and country,” Bishop Holiday says in his message, and adds, “l wish you the Young People of the Diocese of Kroonstad Happy Youth Day.”

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