Saturday, September 5, 2009

Solid Eucharistic Spirituality Needed for Asian Catholic Youth

MAKATI CITY, Philippines : A survey conducted by the Youth Desk of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) shows that young Asians do not understand fully the meaning of the Eucharist, a survey consultant says.

"They (youth) say they participate well at Mass because they sing well, they pray well," but when asked what comes out of this participation and how it helps in relations with others, "the responses are poor," noted Salesian Father Renato de Guzman.

The priest, who was consultant and editor of a report titled "Asian Youth and the Eucharist: A Regional Survey," said most of the youths surveyed said they go to Mass to worship, give thanks and pray. However, more than 32 percent of respondents said they do not belong to Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) or other Church communities. Nearly 43 percent did not even answer the question on BEC membership, Father de Guzman said.

The priest, who is Assistant Principal for Pastoral Affairs at Don Bosco Grade School in Makati City, was speaking to UCA News about the survey conducted in 2008 by the FABC Office of Laity's Youth Desk in preparation for the 9th FABC Plenary Assembly in Manila.

That Aug. 10-16 meeting had the theme "Living the Eucharist in Asia."

The Eucharist is also the theme for the Asian Youth Day the FABC desk is organizing in the Philippines in November.

A total of 1,033 Catholics aged 13-25 from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore took part in the survey. They answered questions aimed at finding out how Asian Catholic youths understand the Eucharist, participate in Eucharistic worship and live the Eucharist in daily life.

"The respondents rate themselves as having an adequate knowledge of the Eucharist -- over 70 percent -- but when we ask about (building) community and specific knowledge, the answers are very weak, and some even bring in superstitious beliefs," Father de Guzman said. He pointed out that 17 percent of respondents said the Eucharist is a means of obtaining good fortune.

Apart from discovering that respondents had a "weak concept of community and mission as gifts of the Eucharist," Father de Guzman cited a lack of influence of parish priests in the formation of the youths' understanding of the Eucharist.

He said only 0.6 percent of survey participants reported the parish as their source of information and understanding of the Eucharist. Formation in Catholic school is "good," the priest noted, but most respondents do not attend Catholic schools. This makes the parish's role even more crucial, he added.

The survey results, he said, challenge clergy, families, catechists, schools and pastoral teams to offer young Catholics in Asia programs to develop "solid and holistic Eucharistic spirituality."

According to the survey report, such a spirituality is concerned about the Christian community as well as God's creation and society.

Courtesy : UCAN

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