Youth Day and Laudato Si in Cape Town

Youth Day and Laudato Si in Cape Town - CYNESA 2017

Just a day after ‘Youth Day’, the Jesuit Social Apostolate and the Youth of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nyanga, organized a workshop with the theme “Young People, It’s Time to Take Care of Our Common Home”, which CYNESA was honored to facilitate.

This year, South Africans commemorated the 41st Anniversary of the June 16th Soweto uprising. Sparked by the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in local schools, more than 20,000 pupils started a protest march on June 16th 1976, against the Bantu education system, which was characterised by separate schools and universities, poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately trained teachers. The police set their dogs on the pupils and started shooting at them. Hundreds were killed and many more wounded.

Young people from across the Archdiocese of Cape Town gathered for ‘Youth Day Mass’ at the Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church in Lansdowne, with Archbishop Stephen Brislin as the main celebrant. The day’s homily focused on the importance of remembrance, but also on the need to look to the future. One of several threats to the future of young people mentioned in the homily was the destruction of our common home. The youth were reminded of their responsibility, individual and collective, in caring for creation.

Laudato Si Workshop in Cape Town - CYNESA 2017

The Archdiocese of Cape Town has set aside September 3rd as ‘Laudato Si’ Sunday, as a way of urging the faithful to respond to “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”, an invitation that Pope Francis extends to “everyone living on the planet”, in the encyclical Laudato Si’. This provided a great setting for the June 17th Laudato Si’ Youth Workshop at St. Mary’s Nyanga. The workshop coincided with the World Day on Combating Desertification.

Very early in the encyclical, Pope Francis clearly identifies the role of the youth in caring for our common home. “Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.” Participants at the workshop, representing Nyanga, Gugulethu and Emfuleni, took up this challenge and examined the environmental issues their communities face, ranging from illegal dumping of solid waste, drought and severe water shortages and sustainable production and consumption.

The enthusiasm of the young people I encountered, their energy and desire to engage and make a difference in leaving their environment a better place than they found it, was truly inspirational. CYNESA looks forward to working closely with the youth in Nyanga, Gugulethu, Emfuleni and their communities, as young Catholics in Africa, Caring for Creation.


CYNESA - Allen Ottaro

Written By:

Allen Ottaro,

Founding Executive Director, CYNESA.

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