Kotido, Uganda: Journeying with the Youth

In the early days of 2023, the youth of Kotido Catholic Diocese gathered at St Daniel Comboni Primary School, for a vibrant one-week youth camp that ignited a spark of inspiration within their hearts. From January 22 to January 29. Led by the two bishops, Bishop Emeritus Giuseppe Fillippi, MCCJ, and His Lordship Rev Dominic Lokut Eibu, MCCJ, the youth camp provided an opportunity for the young people to elect their new leaders and receive blessings from the esteemed bishops.

During the camp, Bishop Fillippi delivered a powerful message, encouraging the youth to be the light of the church and to actively contribute to the development of their diocese. He emphasized that they are the leaders of today, not just tomorrow, and urged them to embrace their roles as messengers to the bishops and priests, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14 just as Jesus had been.

The impact of the bishops’ words was evident in the engagements that followed. The youth of Kotido Catholic Diocese became infused with hope, zeal, enthusiasm, and a renewed sense of purpose. Inspired by the teachings and example of Christ, they embarked on various activities to give back to their community.

Since the youth camp, the young people in different parishes have become remarkably active and vibrant. They have taken up roles as agents of positive change, engaging in community service projects that touch the lives of many. Visiting the elderly and the sick, providing assistance in hospitals, engaging in community sensitization and sanitation efforts, providing food to the elderly and hungry, “For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” – Matthew 25:35and actively participating in farming and environmental protection initiatives became part of their routine.Their commitment to service and community development has been instrumental in fostering positive change with in the diocese. The young people of Kotido Catholic Diocese have demonstrated the potential of the youth to be a driving force for transformation and progress.

On the 10th of July 2023, the youth chaplain, Fr Ignatius Nshing Tanjua MHM, held a meeting with the diocesan youth leaders in Panyangara Parish. The purpose was to review the activities carried out during the year and to plan for future programs. It was during this meeting that they learned about the unfortunate financial constraints preventing the diocese from supporting the youth’s attendance at the international World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, this year in August.

Despite this setback, the youth remained undeterred. Over the years, the Diocese of Kotido has been relatively unrepresented on the international stage, particularly among the young people. Nevertheless, the dream of someday meeting the Pope and sharing their experiences with youth from around the world remains alive in their hearts.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

The journey of the youth in Kotido Catholic Diocese serves as an inspiration to all. Their dedication to embodying the values of Christ and contributing to the welfare of their community demonstrates the immense potential and leadership qualities present in the young generation. Despite facing challenges and limitations, they continue to be the shining light guiding their diocese towards a brighter and more compassionate future.

In the heart of Kotido Catholic Diocese, the Mill Hill Missionaries are a driving force behind empowering the youth through various initiatives that uplift and inspire hope. Panyangara and Loyoro parishes, in particular, have emerged as model parishes within the diocese, with their relentless efforts to foster the potential of the young generation.

The Mill Hill Missionaries, renowned for their dedication to education, empowerment, and community development, have consistently engaged the youth in transformative activities. These initiatives not only equip the youth with essential skills but also instill a sense of purpose and responsibility within them. One of the key endeavors of the Mill Hill Missionaries has been training the youth in shoe making projects. This vocational training not only provides a valuable skill set but also opens doors for potential income generation and self-reliance. By equipping the youth with practical skills, the missionaries help to break the cycle of poverty and create opportunities for a brighter future.

Through these shoe making projects, the youth gain a sense of accomplishment and pride, knowing that their creations contribute positively to their community and livelihoods.

Education is a powerful tool for transformation, and the Mill Hill Missionaries recognize its significance in shaping the future of the youth. To promote education and inspire academic excellence, back-to-school masses are held every term holiday.

These masses serve as a rallying point for the youth, their families, and the entire community to pray for the success of the students in their academic pursuits. It is a time of reflection, gratitude, and renewed determination to embrace education as a means to rise above life’s challenges.

Additionally, the missionaries organize seminars to nourish the minds and hearts of the youth. These seminars serve as platforms for inspiring talks, mentoring, and personal development. The young participants receive guidance on various aspects of life, including spiritual growth, leadership, and decision-making.

As the young people in Kotido Catholic Diocese continue to forge ahead with determination and hope, their impact will undoubtedly reverberate far beyond their immediate community. They stand as an example of the power that lies within the youth when given the opportunity, guidance, and encouragement to become the leaders of today and tomorrow. The journey may be challenging, but with their unwavering spirit and commitment to service, they are paving the way for a better world, one act of kindness and love at a time.

Loving service, lived more faithfully.

Mathias Makoba Siligi.

Kotido Diocese.


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