.- A Colombian bishop who will turn 93 on March 9 told young people worldwide that they are the future and “the greatest treasure of the earth.”
Bishop Emeritus Gregorio Garavito of Villavicencio will celebrate his golden jubilee as a bishop and 70 years as priest in 2012.
“My family was very poor but very religious,” he said, recalling the upbringing that lead to his vocation. “We prayed the rosary, we read the catechism, and slowly the decision to be a priest filled me with peace.”
In an interview on Feb. 22 with the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, he said he feels “an immense peace and spiritual joy over the excitement of knowing that God has chosen him as a messenger.”
The bishop said he was 17 at the time he heard the call to become a priest and said he “has never forgotten that day.”
Bishop Garavito remembered traveling to remote areas to evangelize, noting how creative he had to be in bringing the Gospel to risky places.
“I have always trusted in God. When you entrust your life to Him, you fear nothing,” he underscored. “I think that all these non-conformist movements in the world spring up because young people are hungry for Christ.”
Bishop Garavito lamented changes in Colombia’s constitution in 1992 that no longer required religion to be taught in public schools. This caused harm to the family and led to the high rate of divorce in country today, he said.
He also warned seminarians they are living in “an eroticized world where temptations abound. Pray with your hearts to be free of temptation and for your faith to increase, that you may serve God with pride.”
Only pure love will save the human person, he said. “Do not be afraid of God, He awaits us, He loves us, and we seem to flee from Him. A times it seems like we are embarrassed of our relationship with Him. Continue on the journey, Jesus goes ahead of you, as the friend who will never let you down.”