Meet the duo priest who guide the Catholic youth of India

“Youth are the future of the church”. This is a popular statement that I have often heard in my youth life and well most of us believe this to be a statement of hope and encouragement concerning the young people. As the Catholic Church headed by Pope Francis gave a strong thought to listen, understand and guide the young people through the Youth Synod 2018, a high fold of responsibility has also increased on the shoulders of the pastors and animators who guide the Youth Ministry. Indeed it is a very challenging task in this modern world, to imbibe the quality of leadership within the youth, which enables them to understand themselves first and hence to understand others and serve them.

Dear readers, this write up and interview is a small attempt from Team KonkanCatholic.com to introduce the duo priests, who hail from the Mangalorean Konkani community and now have shouldered the responsibility of guiding and empowering the Catholic youth of the nation through their holistic development. They are Rev. Fr Chetan Machado, the Executive Secretary of CCBI Youth Commission and National Youth Director (NYD) of ICYM and YCS/YSM India and Rev. Fr Jacob Anil D’Sa SDB, the CCBI National Youth Coordinator. Here are some excerpts from the discussion with them.

Rev. Fr Jacob Anil D'Sa (Right) and Rev. Fr Chetan Machado (Left)

Hello dear Fathers. Very happy and glad that you both are leading the Youth Ministry in India. Can you let us know about your childhood, vocation and your journey in the Youth Ministry?

Fr Chetan: I hail from Shirva Parish, born to Late Lawrence & Mary Machado as the 4th child on 8th December 1975. Initially after my SSLC, I along with my friend from Belman had attended a vocation camp at St Joseph Seminary and later we took time to decide and discern on our vocation as per the guidance of the Bishop. As time passed, I continued my studies at Shirva St. Mary’s College and with the request of Fr Victor D’Mello (present Parish Priest of Kirem) who was then the Asst. PP at Shirva, I joined ICYM Shirva unit as a member. It is here I can proudly say that my leadership qualities came to light. In my second year in ICYM, as our Joint Secretary left to abroad for work, I was elected to that post. Then I never turned back in grabbing leadership opportunities on my way. I was elected as the unit Secretary for consecutive 2 years and during my final year of degree education, I was elected the President of ICYM Shirva unit. It was during this time where I could exhibit my leadership qualities through the successful hosting of Diaference (Diocesan Youth Conference). Moreover all through my college days I was actively involved in NCC which enabled me to participate in the Republic Day parade. With all these activities, vocation for priesthood was a little far away from my mind and I developed a desire to join the army. But as they say God’s ways are different from human thinking, some days later my childhood friend from Belman again triggered within me the desire of being a priest and thus we both decided to join a northern diocese. When we had gone to meet the Bishop of Mangalore to seek his permission for the same, to our luck Archbishop Allan of Delhi had come to visit our bishop. He learnt our desire to serve in North India and convinced us to join the Archdiocese of Delhi and thus according to God’s will for me, I am serving the Archdiocese of Delhi as a priest for 12 years and as the NYD for the past since January 2017. I have also served as the Diocesan and Northern Regional Youth Director in the past.

Fr Anil: I hail from Ranipura Parish, born to Late Denis D’Sa & Christine D’Sa on 15th July 1978. I did my schooling at Ranipura uptil 7th standard and then continued my education in St Aloysius High school. During my childhood days I was regular to mass and was serving as an Altar boy. This made be closer to the church and especially in my high school days Fr John Mendonca, the former Parish Priest of Ranipura inspired me to become a priest. I had attended vocation camps of many congregations, but I was touched by the way the Salesian priests work for the youth. Thus I joined the Don Bosco Salesian congregation of Bangalore province in 1994 and was ordained a priest in 2009 at my native parish. After my ordination I was sent to Chitradurga, where I was working with a NGO for the betterment of rural youth. Then I was deputed for the Don Bosco Youth Service during which I did my Masters from National Institute of Youth Development wherein I secured the Gold Medal. Working with the youth has always given me happiness and presently I work as the Karnataka Regional Don Bosco Youth Movement Coordinator. I have served as the Secretary of the Karnataka Youth Commission and as the Karnataka Regional Youth Director for one year.

As Youth Directors what are the challenges that you have faced or are facing in this modern world?

Fr Chetan: Challenges are many and vary from place to place. In south India, especially like Mangalore diocese, the youth movement began in 1947 and has grown out to be a strong movement. But in dioceses in the northern and eastern India, the youth movement have begun from past 20 years. Also distances between parishes, dioceses within a region, and socio economic conditions of the people also play a vital role in the youth ministry. Apart from these barriers, as Directors we need to be youth friendly, drawing the youth closer to Christ, helping them grow spiritually and intellectually.

Fr Anil: Youth formation is a challenge today because the situation of the youth of today is different than the youth of the olden days. Along with the faith formation, the youth should be guided in enabling them meet their own 'needs' with mentoring them to aspire for higher professions, business, economic and political enterprises.

Dear Fathers how do you think that we can develop leadership among Catholic youth?

Fr Chetan: Raising and developing young leaders mainly involves inculcating Christian values in them at a tender age, encouraging them to participate in church activities so they can understand leadership from a Christian perspective. We also need to ensure that they attain the right academic skills to enable them compete with the world.

Fr Anil: I believe in teaching and preparing young leaders to be society oriented. When the young people are taught to serve our community and society in their needs then they will also inculcate personal development. A young leader should be to bring glory to God with his/her existence through service to mankind and thus encourage others to grow in their relationship with Christ.

Fr Chetan can you tell us about the contribution of Indian church to the Youth Synod?

Fr Chetan: The Youth Synod with the theme "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment" had a questionnaire and preparatory document which was received from the Vatican in the mid of 2017. The National Youth Commission of CCBI (Conference of Catholic Bishops of India) translated this questionnaire into several local languages and forwarded it to all the regions in the country. The youth in parishes and other youth organizations between the age of 14 to 29 responded to the questionnaire and the data was given to “Chetanalaya Social Research Centre” the social wing of the Archdiocese of Delhi which has an expert team of data analysts for analysis. The study was completed within a month and the findings were reviewed once again by a team appointed by the National Commission. The report had been then prepared considering all the factors such as urban and rural youth, educational qualifications, church participation, language and origin. The young respondents filled in the questionnaire of their own free will and with an open mind. In October 2018, 14 bishops and the National Youth President Mr Percival Holt participated in the Youth Synod and presented these views to the synod. 

Fr Anil what are your views on the Youth Synod held recently?

Fr Anil: In today’s world, young people face confusions with storm of conflicting ideas. In situations like these the Catholic Church serves as a beacon of love, mercy, and truth. It also helps in finding Christ in the darkness isn’t always an easy journey. Young people have put forward their issues which the Church needs to understand and accordingly evolve some of its existing methodology and approaches. Young people always wanted the world to listen to them and I really appreciate the idea of this Youth Synod where youth could voice out their problems.

Dear Fathers what is your message for the KonkanCatholic.com web readers and the youth?

Fr Chetan: Submitting ourselves to God must be the starting point for each one of us. We must allow God to lead us and shape our lives for His glory. This requires one to be daily seeking and engaging with God in prayer and in His Word. It is our actions and choices in life that define the way others see us and ultimately decide the kind of impact we leave on the world.

Fr Anil: The youth of today are the future of the world in all aspects. We often under estimate their energy, imagination and talent which can considerably change in the way we have always done things. Let us give our youth a holistic approach to their development not only academically but also physically, emotionally, ethically and above all spiritually. 

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