My Dear Friends,
These words have no adequate translation into English (we translate it to “noise” but “ruckus” is my preferred translation). These were the words of Pope Francis to the young people of Argentina gathered in a cathedral in Rio for World Youth Day not long after he was elected pope in 2013. The youth were so excited to see someone from their homeland as their Pope. Seeing the enthusiasm in these young people, the Holy Father speaking off the cuff told them:
“Let me tell you what I hope will be the outcome of World Youth Day: I hope there will be noise. Here there will be noise, I’m quite sure. Here in Rio there will be plenty of noise, no doubt about that. But I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses, I want the noise to go out, I want the Church to go out onto the streets, I want us to resist everything worldly, everything static, everything comfortable, everything to do with clericalism, everything that might make us closed in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions are made for going out …”
And that is my wish for this parish too: that our young people will start making “noise” that they start causing “lío.” Next Sunday, we embark on a new chapter of our ministry to the youth when our High School Youth Group and our Young Adult Group begin to meet after our 5:30pm Youth Mass. For too long, Little Flower has ceded youth and young adult ministry to other parishes, but we have an obligation to our youth to minister to them here.
This isn’t simply a social hour on Sunday nights before the school week begins. This is an opportunity to gather as a youth of Little Flower to encounter our Lord, Jesus Christ. They will do that with their friends, with their former classmates from our school and religious education program, and once that encounter with Christ happens, they will start making that joyful “noise” that the Holy Father longs for; that we all long for.
During his impromptu remarks in Rio, the Pope turned to the bishops and priests present and apologized to them if a ruckus breaks out in their churches because of his words. I was pastor of my first parish when I heard this speech, and my reaction was simply “bring it on.” We want a Church, a parish, where the youth are active and present and going out to serve the community. We want a Church that is vibrant because the youth are making noise and causing a “ruckus.”
And one thing that we can’t forget that Pope Francis told the young people that day and in subsequent encounters was to listen to the wisdom of their grandparents, of the elders of their community because the two poles of society, the elderly and the young, are far too often discarded and not heard. So, I ask for your prayers this week as we begin a new chapter of youth ministry in our parish. Pray that it will be vibrant. Pray that young people will heed the call of Christ and be active participants. Pray that they will make noise!
God bless you all!