By Josh Low
In a messy, chaotic world where young people are constantly bombarded with negative ideology, propaganda and falsehoods disguised as truth, lies the ever growing need for young people to deepen their relationship with God.
But what do the youth of today seek in their lives? Do they recognise the need for God?
Director of Catholic Youth Ministry (CYM) Perth, Vincent Haber, and Principal of Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation (Acts2COME), Jane Borg, spoke to The Record about the youth today.
Mrs Borg says it is young people especially, who are searching for their identity and purpose.
“They are asking, “Who am I? What am I to do in my life? How do I fit in – whether it be with my family, friends, career, and society?”
“The answer to this of course, lies in God. God is the source of our identity; our relationship with God is the reason we exist.”
Mr Haber expanded on three specific things he believes young people constantly search for in their lives.
“The youth are looking for real happiness, and are looking everywhere to attain this, experiencing everything good or bad as they constantly search for contentment in their hearts.
“Young people also want a place to belong so they can feel loved and valued. Finally, they seek validation,” he said.
“They want to know whether they matter in this busy and chaotic world and desire acknowledgement and affirmation. That is why social media is huge for young people, especially teens, who seek validation based on the ‘likes’ of their peers.”
Mrs Borg was in agreement, saying that whether they realise it or not, each and every person has a deep need for God, with young people especially vulnerable in today’s society.
“If they have not encountered God in a real way, they will search for something to fill the gap,” she said.
“The world offers many activities that give superficial pleasure, but none provide the deep fulfilment offered by Christ – resulting in an empty feeling, searching and bouncing from one thing to another.”
However, Mr Haber said when young people have an encounter with Jesus, they experience what true love, mercy and compassion is all about which then gives them a model on how to love, be merciful and compassionate towards others, with a genuine joy in their lives.
“My hope for young people that may not know God is that they realise there is a God who loves them; that they know and believe they are worthy of His love and mercy, and that they know they are not alone, but have a family in the Catholic Church who will journey with and guide them in their search for truth and genuine joy,” he said.
He added that his experiences in youth ministry have given him many opportunities to meet people who have had their lives changed after an encounter with Christ.
“One particular example is a young man, brought up in a Catholic home, who, because of his desire to belong, got in to the wrong crowd. His life spiralled out of control due to his addictions and peer pressure, in a lifestyle that went on for many years.
“But encountering Jesus Christ at a youth conference in New Norcia one year was the start of his journey towards healing, becoming a better person and striving for holiness.
“It doesn’t mean it’s all roses; he still fails and struggles but he now prays for Our Lord to give him the strength and the perseverance to overcome daily obstacles, and prays for healing from his past so that he can move forward and use his God given gifts to pursue his dreams,” Vincent said.
“This is why young people need God. They need someone who will ‘have their back’ when life gets tough; they need to know that they are loved unconditionally, and that they are made for greatness.
“Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and it is only through Him that they will find the true joy that they are searching for, just as St Augustine proclaimed when he wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
From pages 30 to 31 of Issue 16: ‘Celebrating Women’ of The Record Magazine