Negombo, Sri Lanka, Aug 4, 2013 (CNA) - Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze spoke to a group of catechists in Sri Lanka, reminding them of the importance of their role in teaching the faith and encouraging them to read the catechism.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an important book...reading it would improve your knowledge,” he told the group on July 22.
The cardinal delivered an address at Loyola College in Negombo, Sri Lanka, in celebration of the Negombo Regional Catechists Day.
Alongside reading the catechism, he stated that there is a need to live “an exemplary life” and “a life of prayer.”
Cardinal Arinze also acknowledged the commitment and dedicated service of the catechists who teach at the Daham Pasals, or Sunday Schools.
“You have taken the responsibility of your parish priest on your shoulders to teach catechism to the children and also to build up a closer relationship with them and their families.”
Catechists Day was instituted by Cardinal Malcom Ranjith, archbishop of the Colombo diocese, in order to strengthen the faith and bring closer pastoral assistance to Catholics during the Year of Faith.
Instituted by Benedict XVI, the Year of Faith aims to deepen personal conversion and strengthen faith, emphasizing the importance of a return to the sources of the faith, such as the Catechism and the Apostles Creed.
Cardinal Ranjith, who presided over the occasion, said that every catechist should be able to apply to himself the words of Jesus: "My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me.”
“Christ is the teacher who gave the gift of faith to His disciples,” he noted. “For Christians the crucifix is one of the most sublime and popular images of Christ the Teacher.”
Cardinal Ranjith encouraged the catechists to be good examples by living what they teach, saying, “Children will come to a life of God when you impart faith and teach them catechism through your devout life.”
Denver, Colo., Aug 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - For Annie Powell, what began as a childhood dream has become a thriving Catholic summer camp hosting students nationwide for outdoor week-long excursions in Colorado's Rocky Mountains.
“Alright Lord, I guess that's what I want to do: I want to create a summer camp that brings people to you and to your creation,” Annie Powell, founder of Camp Wojtyla, recalls telling God in prayer when she was 15.
Eventually, that prayer turned into a reality when in 2006, Camp Wojtyla was established under the direction of Annie and her husband, Scott.
“When we started dating, and then preparing for marriage, it really became sort of a mission for our marriage,” she told CNA July 30, “we wanted our marriage to bring people to the Lord.”
Named after Blessed John Paul II who was passionate about bringing young people closer to Christ through the outdoors, Camp Wojtyla serves middle school and high school kids from all over the country by bringing them into the wilderness to help them grow in relationship with God and creation.
Daily Mass, rock climbing, confession, rafting, Eucharistic adoration, and treks through the Rockies are just a few of the activities that groups of middle school boys or girls and high school boys or girls experience during a week of their summer vacation.
For many of the teens that Annie and Scott see come through the camp each year, “it’s getting harder and harder” to live their Catholic faith, which is why a week at Catholic summer camp is so crucial for them.
“We literally saw kids leaving here with more confidence in themselves and in their faith, than when they showed up,” Scott said, “which is really incredible to witness.”
Each outdoor activity is followed by a period of reflection and discussion when the kids are asked how it reflects their faith and can be applied in everyday life.
“And it's not just, ‘What did you learn from this?’” Annie said, “but it's, ‘How can you transfer it to what you're dealing with back home?’”
When kids can make the connection between their faith and these challenging and exciting activities, it helps create a solid foundation on which they can continue to grow their relationship with Christ.
“The kids just get this sense of, ‘Wow if I can climb that mountain, I really feel like I can do anything now,’” she added.
The camp not only has an impact on the campers, but also on the staffers.
After an intensive three-week “Servant Leadership Program” and two months of living in the wilderness teaching kids about God and nature, Annie said she can see “tremendous growth” in her staff, many of whom are college students.
“They just become authentically themselves,” she said, noting that the difficulty of living without many modern amenities for the summer paired with a deepening love of God helps them “learn what it is to serve.”
“They go back to their college campuses and they spread that,” she added.
Growing up in Boulder, Colo. – a hotbed of outdoor adventure programs – Scott said he hopes Camp Wojtyla will be a witness to other wilderness excursion groups.
While there are many “great Catholic programs” teaching kids about God and “great secular groups” teaching kids about nature, he said, Camp Wojtyla is unique in that it is “very dynamic” in the faith, but also “very serious about the outdoors.”
“One of the goals is to evangelize the world – and to evangelize the outdoor world,” he said. “I can see a respect growing for what we do because we strive to be excellent in all aspects of what we're doing.”
The couple said the camp is expanding in several ways, including launching a program to help campers keep in touch virtually and starting to offer winter expedition programs.
For more information about Camp Wojtyla, visit camp-w.jp2adventures.com.
Vatican City, Aug 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his Angelus address today, Pope Francis asked the crowds to pray with him that the World Youth Day pilgrims will continue to respond to God’s call in their daily lives.
“I ask you to join me in praying that the youth who have participated in World Youth Day can translate this experience into their daily journey,” the Pope said Aug. 4 at St. Peter's Square.
“Into their daily conduct,” he continued, “and also into their important life choices, responding to the personal call of the Lord.”
The Pope cautioned, “we must not forget that World Youth Day is not just ‘fireworks,’ moments of enthusiasm for their own sake.”
Rather, “they are stages of a long journey” to follow Christ.
“Always remember, youth don’t follow the Pope, they follow Jesus Christ, carrying his cross. And the Pope guides and accompanies them in this journey of faith and hope.”
Pope Francis went on to talk about the particular difficulties faced by the youth of today. The “challenging” words from today’s first reading at Mass, he said, are especially applicable to youth.
“‘Vanity of vanities… all is vanity.’ Young people are particularly sensitive to the emptiness of meaning and values which surrounds them. And unfortunately, they pay the consequences.”
However, “meeting the living Jesus, in his large family that is the Church, fills the heart with joy,” encouraged the Pope.
He added that God fills the heart with “true life, a profound goodness that does not pass away.”
“I saw this joy on the faces of the youth in Rio. But this experience must confront today’s vanities, the poison of emptiness that creeps into our societies” from a consumerist mentality obsessed with “having.”
“True wealth is the love of God, shared amongst brothers,” said the Pope. “Someone who has experienced this does not fear death, and receives peace of heart.”
After leading the crowd in prayer, Pope Francis went on to greet the various groups assembled.
“There are many youth in the square,” he noted with a smile. “This seems like Rio de Janeiro!”