A faith-based youth apostolate movement, committed to the principles and values of evangelisation, formation, social justice and advocacy, wants to expand in Africa
In Africa, the YCS movement was first introduced in Madagascar in 1937, and has grown to spread to 34 countries, with a membership of over 3.2 million students in secondary schools and tertiary institutions. IYCS-Africa is focused on students’ empowerment through evangelisation, capacity building (education), advocacy, dialogue, reconciliation, conflict management, and transformation as means to overcome the dualism between faith and life.
The IYCS-Africa Coordination Team, under the theme “Our Faith – Our Future: Students in Africa taking action”, is helping students to build consensus on the fundamental issues related to peace building and conflict transformation, care for our planet, democracy and-good governance, Africa’s integration, HIV/AIDS and health education, spirituality, through the practice of “See-Judge-Act” methodology.
In the present-day society, many young people lack employable skills. They may be academically qualified, but are not useful to any industry. Only few youths who desire to develop these skills find the opportunities to do so. To assist in tackling this problem, IYCS-Africa is creating opportunities for young people across Africa, to attend leadership formation and development courses (internship & volunteer).
Today’s young people are called to update themselves so that they may keep abreast of rapidly changing trends. IYCS tries to find appropriate pastoral response to the yearnings and questions that the young people encounter. They meet many big challenges: anxieties of life and family, pressure from friends and partners, tensions from studies and employment, influence from social media and digital technology, difficulty with religion, faith and spirituality, discrepancies between dreams and real life, misconception of freedom, etc.
IYCS aims at evangelizing and transforming young people through formation, and encourages them to look at the world from the perspective of the poor, with a commitment to global solidarity, freedom, justice and peace. Being a movement of Catholic Action that aims to be apostolic, the IYCS sees the mission of Jesus as indispensable. Therefore, the movement wants to facilitate an encounter between the young person and Jesus Christ, so that they may overcome the dualism between faith and life, and has its foundation in a spirituality of action, which starts from a deep analysis and faith reflection on the reality.
All activities the IYCS Movement organise have the evangelisation aspect inbuilt in them. The target is to assist young people to realise God’s purpose for their life. The main goal is to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God and make this kingdom more and more present in the world. Hence, young people in YCS are formed to become agents and collaborators in social transformation, through alleviating the many sufferings and bonds of slavery people experience. IYCS members are called to a prophetic role that demands sacrificing oneself for the salvation of the world. Total commitment to the cause makes them prophets in the footsteps of Jesus.
The IYCS movement’s spirituality helps young people to internalise their faith and to match their life to the Gospel, through the methodology of the ‘Review of Life; with its three steps: see-judge-act. In this way, faith becomes engagement in life and translates into actions against poverty, exclusion and injustice in the world, and into a commitment to serve the poorest and most abandoned. By bringing together young people to seek community and formation, the movement directs them to actions that promote global solidarity, freedom, justice and peace, in view of a more just and equitable social order.
It is urgent for the Church to invest in youth chaplaincies, with priests and lay animators who can be counted as models and genuine prophets among the young people. The Church must be more present in the students’ milieu. She is called upon to help those who are still in discernment to consolidate their Catholic faith, so that they may resist the allurement of many new religious movements that are mushrooming, which, by offering quick solutions, are often appealing to the young people, but may not be as useful as they pretend to be.
IYCS invites young people to be model citizens and to take active roles in their communities. They are the future of the Church and society, and they must be encouraged to explore all available learning opportunities to build their capacity in all fields.They must be inspired to be at their best and to do their best, if we desire to usher in a new society.
The IYCS movement wants to grow and reach out to more young people in Africa and around the world. Why? Because we hope that the Kingdom of God will come, where justice, peace, truth and love prevail.
Agathe Mossane Sagne
IYCS Pan African Coordinator