By Ann Schneible
DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 19, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Missionaries for Youth 2000 took part in the 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Dublin last week, contributing to many of the various youth formation programs throughout the event.Throughout the congress, young people have had the opportunity to hear catechesis from various Church leaders, participate in praise and worship, and receive the sacraments.
Youth 2000 Ireland has been closely involved with the organization of the IEC’s youth program, having sat in on the planning committee. Among the various events organized by Youth 2000 were an evening of reconciliation at the Royal Dublin Society’s Youth Space, and 60 hours of Adoration, held at Saint Theresa’s Church near the city center of Dublin.
James Mahon, National Leader of Youth 2000 Ireland, spoke with ZENIT about ministering to young people, especially during the IEC. “This is the first time there’s been a youth program in a Eucharistic Congress,” he said, “so it’s a very positive thing, and a step in the right direction in Ireland.”
In addressing the needs of young people in Ireland, Mahon explained, it is first necessary to realize that what young people need is Jesus. “We have a duty to go out and communicate the truth of our Catholic faith to them,” he explained. “I think there can be a habit due to the current culture to want to dilute the message, but I think we have to get out there, and give them the orthodox message of our Church, the beauty of our Church, but dynamic orthodoxy.”
“The truth always resonates [with us] because we’ve been made for God,” he said. “We should not be afraid to communicate the truth, but be creative, and be bold in doing it.”
The sacrament of reconciliation
One of the highlights of the IEC’s youth program was an evening of reconciliation, which was held on Thursday. The event included praise and worship music, catechesis, Eucharistic Adoration, and the opportunity to go to confession.
Confession, Mahon explained, is a source of healing and freedom. “I wasn’t always in my faith,” he said. “I came back to my faith about seven years ago when I’d just come out of university. And what I discovered, as a young person trying to walk on the road, and trying to discover the Lord’s will in my life, is that whenever I fell, I could get up, and I could go to confession, and I could start again.”
“If only people realized how powerful confession is, and how it’s actually about healing. Christ not only wants to take our sin away, but He wants to come and put His healing hand in the place that once hurt us, so we’re more fully ourselves afterwards.”
“Sometimes people think it’s about God condemning us; it’s the opposite. If we’re truly honest, and we understand the sacrament, it can be life-changing.”
What young people can receive from this, and all of the events of the IEC, which is centered around the Eucharist, Mahon said, “is [certainty] that they’re loved.”
“Why did Jesus come as bread?” Mahon said, quoting Youth 2000 national spiritual director Father John Harris, who offered reflections to the young people participating in the evening of reconciliation. Jesus came as bread, he explained, “because He wanted to love us from the inside.”
“He has a great plan in store for [the young people’s] lives, and He wants to love them… He wants them to know him personally.”