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'Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'

Jul 14, 2010, 3:14 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

The Year of the Priest recently ended, with full-time celebration and awareness-creation on the role of priests, and on youth as future stakeholders in the life of the Church. Many thanked God for the organisation of the event, which was proudly sponsored by Gambega.

Over 3000 youth and the elderly from all over the country participated, with some in attendance from neighbouring Senegal, especially Ziguinchor.

In a message from Rev. Fr. John Mendy, he stated that whenever the faithful are gathered to celebrate faith, they never cease to thank God.

"I wish to convey on behalf of the Diocesan Youth our warm greetings and felicitations to all gathered to celebrate the Year of the Priest with youth of the diocese.

We gather here in the name of God because we gather in His name because He does great things in our lives. The Psalmist says, 'How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together! It is like fine oil on the head, running down the beard, running down Aaron's head, onto the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon falling on the heights of Zion; for there Yahweh bestows His blessing, everlasting life.' (Psalm 133)

The theme for this year's World Youth Day Celebration is challenging for the Year of the Priest: Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mark 10: 18.) The correlation between the theme, the priests and the youth underscores the inextricable link between the youth and the priest. The youth have enormous and incalculable energy, talents and potentials and the priests need to tap and channel them in the proper direction in order to achieve the overall development of the parish and the diocese at large,” Fr. John Mendy said.

The numerous youth gathered in solidarity to make a difference as youth. Many believe being a youth depends on how you think of yourself. As a result, many parents were present, including the old. Gracing such an all-important occasion would not mean leaving out the able-bodied, who also are always ready to serve and praise God.

Fr. John Mendy emphasised that the priests should have special interest in the youth, and should guide them to the way of salvation and to be responsible citizens. It was in this regard that they want to thank their five-member committee set up by the priests' council for creating such forum for the priests and youths to interact.

Fr. John Mendy said the Catholic Church was celebrating in grand style the maiden edition of the Gambian version of World Youth Day, which is celebrated annually by many dioceses in the world. He said that the World Youth Day Cross was given to the youth by Pope John Paul 11 on 22nd April 1984, with these words: "My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ's love for humanity and proclaim to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found."

Fr. John Mendy further said, in conclusion, that in the words of Saint Paul, "the message of the Cross is nonsense to those who perish for lack of its redemption; it is the power of God to those who are saved," he quoted (1Cor 1:18).

Meanwhile, Fr. John Mendy welcomed those from the Diocese of Ziguinchor, Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches, including our brothers and sisters from the Muslim faith.

"As we celebrate this weekend of the priests and the youth, we wish every participant fruitfulness and a plethora of divine grace and blessings," he said.

The programme started at Saint Charles Lwanga, Fajikunda, with Praise and Worship. The ministers of Youth and Sports and of Religious Affairs could not be present due to their retreat at Kanilai, but the Youth minister was represented.

In a solemn procession from Fajikunda to Lamin, a well-organised solemn procession, different churches youth groups recited the Stations of the Cross. Youth from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption were at the head of the procession, which started at Abuko and prayed for the priests, followed by Star of the Sea youth, who prayed for the youth. Holy Spirit youth prayed for political leaders, Holy Rosary Church prayed for Church leaders. At Lamin, the fifth Station was lead by Blessed Sacrament Parish whose youth prayed for peace. The Resurrection Parish prayed for the sick. Saint Francis Kunkujang Parish prayed for The Gambia. Saint Peter's youth said the eighth Station.

It was night, but the walking seemed to have energised all those present. The area at St. Peter's school was jammed packed with youth and others. There was prayer vigil, and it was well-attended, and was conducted by Saint Kizito youths. The whole country was represented as many travelled to attend from far and wide. Fr. Francis Ayo MSP, parish priest of Fajikunda, spoke on the topic: "Good Master, what can I do to inherit eternal life?"

That was on the second day. It continued on with a carnival. The awards night brought thrilling thoughts to many as all the priests, including the Bishop of Banjul received an award. Other past members of the Diocesan Youth Council (DYC) like Peter French was given awards.

Meanwhile, there was a thrilling encounter in the football match between priests and seminarians versus youth, which ended 4 goals to 1 against the priests and seminarians.

Fr. Peter S. Lopez was full of praise for their sponsor, Gambega, for making the first Youth Day celebration exceptional and a complete success.

"We encourage youth to make the event part of them, to enable all to lift Gambia higher spiritually and physically," he declared.

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