Sowing the seeds of hope and peace

September 12, 2017

At the 2017 Archdiocesan Youth Conference (AYC), thousands of teens focused on the Marian devotion of Our Lady of Fatima. Our prayers and reflection were focused on her message for people to pray the Rosary for peace in the world.

I found myself thinking about the hope for peace that we currently have in our world, especially because of the malicious acts we hear and see broadcast on the news. However, my mind quickly went back to the good works I have observed in this youthful generation. Indeed, we are living among many peacemakers and there is much hope for the future.

For the last 5 years the Archdiocesan Missions Office has sponsored a table in Bayou Village, an interactive park at AYC. Led by Missions Office Director Hilda Ochoa, a team shows youth how to make Rosaries by hand for missions around the world. Over the years, Ochoa has grown her team of volunteers because the numbers of youth who want to make this Rosary for their prayers continues to grow.

These youth have proven to be spiritually contagious for the team who volunteers; Ochoa says it causes some members of the team to return year after year. She always comments on what a wonderful time they had. In their desire for prayer, the youth are a witness to others; they are bringing peace and hope today and for the future.

The prayer experiences of AYC 2017 were centered on Our Lady of Fatima and a living Rosary for peace was prayed by more than 2,600 youth. This is one of the favored prayers and it has been prayed at AYCs in other years. Some youth have commented that the prayer itself brings peace to their heart; perhaps one person’s peace will be spiritually contagious and give peace to others. What a ray of hope!

There is a group of youth in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston who have an idea of what peace might look like in the world. If one was to observe the Archdiocesan Youth Council in ministry, one would be awe inspired to watch this body of youth from varied cultures gather, plan and minister in unity and peace.

I have observed the respect they have for each other, especially how they respect each other’s gifts given by God to share in their ministry. The ministry of the Archdiocesan Youth Council requires a variety of talents and tasks that need to be carried out in order to welcome and witness to others.

Each youth knows where they can best serve the Church. If a youth is in doubt of what he or she can do, others are there to help them recognize the talents they have been given to share.

There is no competition among them, but rather there is affirmation of each other’s gifts to move forward to carry out their ministry. They are able to share their ideas with the confidence that they will not be ridiculed for them. Is this the peace we are all looking for in society?

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27) At a time when there is so much unrest in our world, we can look at these youth and see hope in their leadership as they grow into adults who will build a peaceful world in the future.

Look around your world; is there a youth you know who offers great hope and sows peace? Let us not be troubled; rather, let us join these youth in sowing peace in the world around us. May the peace of Christ be with us all! 

Norma Torok is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.