The existence of an organized structure for the youths of the Church has been described as an essential requisite for the effective participation of Catholic youths in the evangelization work of the Church and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has mandated the CBCN Youth Committee of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigerian to facilitate this process.
This disclosure was made by the Episcopal Chairman of CBCN Youth Committee, Most Rev. John Ayah, Bishop of Ogoja, in his paper titled: Understanding the Organogram of Youth Apostolate in Nigeria, at the recently concluded National Youth Conference, held at the Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre, (DRACC), Lugbe, Abuja.
While commending the existence of several youth organizations at different levels of the Church in the country, Bishop Ayah noted: “within a local Church, there are also elements of uniformity which is different from the familiar and steady divisions in some of our sister Churches. Thus, the divide we see among the Youth groups are acceptable only to the extent it allows us to enjoy the uniformity which is one of the characters of the Church.”
He continued: “In many dioceses, there are structures that do not enhance this harmony we dream about. The youth group we see in the Parishes are the Catholic Youth organization of Nigeria (CYON). Facts before us are that in some dioceses, the statute of CYON has been replaced and substituted by other groups.”
As a result of this observation, there is the need to streamline the youth groups in the Church for more effective participation in the activities of the Church by the youths, the bishop stated. He added: “Today, we are gathered to deliberate on how best to organize the Youth Apostolate in Nigeria bearing in mind that all of us are working for the Bishops Conference of Nigeria. Having looked at the structures on ground, we need to understand the minds of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and see a way of adjusting to fit into it.”
Pointing out that CYON will be the umbrella body for all Catholic Youth Organizations in the country, Bishop Ayah stressed that the National Youth Conference is meant to suggest possible ways of bringing other youth bodies to relate with CYON in collaboration with the Youth Animation unit of the Pastoral Agents Department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria.(CSN).