Young Catholics in Pokhara are becoming more active both in their parish of Anna Maria and beyond. Last weekend, after helping the parish priest conduct the main Saturday morning Mass, a dozen young people held a forum with older parishioners on issues including good parenthood and abortion. After that they went to a slum area near the city’s bus station, accompanied by the parish priest and a group of Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity. They sang songs and hymns for the children using the “madal,” the local drum, and greeted the children with ‘Praise be to the Messiah.’ One child said he thought it was "a greeting in God’s language.” The group of more than 30 street children were given lunch and snacks by the young people, who said they felt very emotional while serving the meal. After returning to the parish, some of the young people took time working to find ways in which they could help these children in areas such as hygiene and education on a regular basis in the future. Next day the youth group held more discussions at the parish hall on human rights issues in Nepal in relation to biblical values. Jesuit parish priest Father Arul Selvam said a youth leader from Kathmandu has also helped conduct recent sessions on human rights awareness for high-school girl students at St. Mary’s school (run by the Companions of Jesus sisters) in Pokhara. Santosh Thapa, a parish youth leader, said: “Working for poor orphans and the helpless, and feeding the hungry, is the work of charity, demonstrating the real values of the gospel. “After going through formation programs run by Catholic youth from Kathmandu we are even more motivated to get involved in church activities on a more regular basis. “I am very happy that the youth help out in the parish these days and are ready for any task,” said Father Arul. He said the youth group is planning to conduct evangelization programs in nearby villages using dramas and programs in the near future. “However our youth need some more retreats”, commented Missionaries of Charity Sister Mary Domina, who has been helping motivate the youth group in the parish and accompanied them to the slums. “Last July at a youth meet we had vowed to reach out to others and we are doing it slowly. Our group has even been cleaning the streets in different parts of the city to set examples,” Santosh Thapa said. He said, “We have realized that to be ready to accompany our parish priest during family visits to homes of both Catholics and other denominations is also part of our parish activities.” Father Selvam told ucanews.com: “We have got more than a dozen energetic parish members. After having started a Vincent De Paul church group we are also trying to start a small Focolare Movement. The youths can help reach out to villages like Mirta about 25 kilometers away - they can perform local dances and communicate the parables through them. Individuals are interested in learning more about Christianity so I travel a lot these days and meet them. The youth group is a lot of help and growing.” NP13174.1640
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