Family workers from six Southeast Asian countries have discussed ways of strengthening young people’s waning faith at their annual meeting. Some 40 priests, Religious and laypeople who are in charge of family ministry were attending the fifth Southeast Asia Family Symposium held May 20-22 at the Pastoral Center in Ho Chi Minh City. The participants came from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The symposium entitled Journeying with Young Adults in the Christian Faith was hosted by the Vietnam Bishops’ Conference’s Episcopal Commission for Family. Father Louis Nguyen Anh Tuan, secretary-general of the Episcopal Commission for Family, said participants shared their practical experiences of working with families in their own countries and discussed ways of helping young adults strengthen their faith more effectively. Participants “were deeply concerned about young people who move to cities for their studies or work,” said Father Tuan. Participants believed that loneliness, poor spiritual life, lack of life skills and consumerism are driving young people away from Christian values. Many cited youths engaging in premarital sex, drug abuse and seeking abortions as examples. They suggested the Church should conduct open dialogues with young people to guide them with the light of the Gospels without imposing ideas and opinions. They said parents should spend more time talking and listening to children in order to understand their desires, thoughts, emotions and aspirations, and teach them how to face and solve problems using Christian values. Parents should also give faith education to children from early childhood – telling them about Jesus before bedtime. In addition, parents should be patient and more tolerant towards their children when they have problems and difficulties. “Parents should be part of the solution to children’s problems and not part of the problem itself,” they said in a statement.
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