Seminarians told to ‘trust the youth in renewing the church’

ROXAS CITY, Capiz – As the Philippine Church’s celebration of the Year of the Youth culminates, Visayan theology seminarians were reminded to empower the youth as role players in the Church.

In the conference for the 12th Gathering of Theology Seminarians in the Visayas (GTSV) at the Sancta Maria Mater et Regina Seminarium (SMMRS) on Tuesday, October 22, Msgr. Jaime Noel Deslate, Episcopal Vicar for the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Capiz, encouraged future shepherds of the Church to meet and engage young people.

Msgr. Deslate, who also served as Executive Secretary for the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Clergy (ECC) stressed that instead of dismissing or apprehending the so-called millennial generation, the Church should be sensitive in understanding where the youth is coming from.

“The Catholic church cannot change the millennial culture,” Msgr. Deslate said.

“Basically, we are challenged to trust the young to lead the Church to the new generation. If we have to empower them, we have to trust our young people,” he stressed.

A doctor of Psychology, Msgr. Deslate pointed out that Church authorities should be see the good among millennials despite the many stereotypes hurled against them, especially by authoritative adults.

Noting that the millennial mindset adheres more to liberal political agendas like same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization – both of which are issues that the Church is definitely against with – the Capiznon priest pointed out that this should challenge the Church to engage the youth in dialogue instead of imposing the standard moral teachings it hold.

“The millennials are more inclusive, tolerant and democratic in orientation,” he said, admitting that “the centrality of faith has been set aside.”

“It is easy to label our millennials today as entitled, self-centered and lazy. We have to understand the youth in order for us to evangelize them instead of basking in their negative sides,” he added.

Moreover, Msgr. Deslate said that this reality dare future priests to be more creative and credible as pastors of Church, noting that young people are looking for “authenticity.”

“The challenge of evangelization lies in proclaiming the truth in its diverse faces [and] on how to preach the truth without imposing it,” he said.

“Authenticity makes the Church more attractive to young people. They don’t perfect priests or perfect seminarians. They want authentic pastors who are honest even with their own vulnerabilities.”