The words of Jesus' invitation - 'Come and See' (Jn 1, 39) are the guiding thread of the first Syriac Youth International Convention which is taking place in Lebanon, in Faytrun, near the monastery of Our Lady of Light. Around 450 young Syriac Catholic aged between 18 to 35, from 18 different countries are taking part.
Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan writes that the conference is intended as an opportunity to share with the young Syriac Catholics from all over the world the hope "for the renewal of the Christian community in the Holy Spirit", but also to re-propose the "wealth of the Syriac heritage, language and civilization "to boys and girls who end up losing ties with the culture and traditions of their families in the communities of the diaspora.
The program of the convention days - which began on 17 July and ends today, Sunday 22 July - includes liturgical celebrations, listening to spiritual testimonies, moments of entertainment and touristic excursions, like the one at the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa.
The exodus of Christians from the Middle East concerns above all the younger generations, those most involved in the migratory processes that are thinning the numerical presence of many Middle Eastern Christian communities. In some countries, such as Syria, young people are pushed to emigrate to avoid having to carry out long, exhausting and dangerous military service.
The Catholic Church is preparing for the next Synod, dedicated to young people, to be held in the Vatican from 3 to 28 October 2018 on the theme 'Young people, faith and vocational discernment'. The urgency of young people in the Middle Eastern Churches will also be highlighted by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, who Pope Francis has appointed as President delegate of the next Synodal Assembly, together with Cardinal Desirè Tsarahazana, Archbishop of Toamasina (Madagascar), Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar) and Cardinal John Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea).
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