08 “Let The Little Children Come To Me” (Mt 19:14) - Bishop Bosco Penha

posted Nov 6, 2018, 8:22 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 6, 2018, 8:22 AM ]
Some years ago, when I was actively at the helm of the Youth Ministry in the archdiocese, I was discussing our efforts with another priest. I was telling him the importance of reaching out to the youth who were the future of the Church. He said something to me which I have never forgotten. He opined: "I feel that starting with the youth, we are already late. They have had so many years of childhood, when they are already formed; so it is difficult to mould them as youth. We have to start earlier in the Church, with children." Of course, we do deal with children in Catholic school and Sunday Catechism Class, but I think our children need something more intense and creative in this endeavour.

On November 14, we celebrate Children's Day, and I was reminded of the vulnerability of children and how much they depend on us adults. But I was also reminded of the power and potentiality of children, and how much we can learn from them. Can we get them more involved and use their talents to build the Church?

There are at least three experiments, of which I have heard, regarding efforts made to reach out to children and develop their potentialities.

1. At Dadar West and Vakola

The first is by Fr Felix D'Souza. Earlier, when he was the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Salvation, Dadar, he had started the 'Children's Parliament'. Here is what he writes:

a) The 'Children's Parliament' was an idea that was initiated in one of the parishes in a diocese of South India; the main purpose being that the children would be initiated in the programmes of the Small Christian Community Project. Having understood its operation, I thought of initiating a similar concept in the parish of Our Lady of Salvation, Dadar. I was often confronted with the comments of our elderly SCC animators who complained that the youth were nowhere in the picture for SCC programmes. This set me thinking, that if we have not been able to capture the attention and utilize the energy of the youth for the programmes in the Church, then it was necessary that we initiate such interest first and foremost in the children.