14 Notes & Comments

posted Aug 10, 2017, 9:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 10, 2017, 9:27 AM ]

Laudato Si' has changed young lives


Laudato si', the encyclical written by Pope Francis on the theme of protection and respect for the environment, inspired and changed the life of two young Asian Catholics.

Jonathan Cho, a native of Hong Kong, and Sumbal Tariq, a student of Islamabad (Pakistan), shared their experience with young people who took part in a meeting organised during the Asian Youth Day event in Yogyakarta on 3 August.

Jonathan Cho was a lonely and lazy boy who fled socialising opportunities in favour of his technology gadgets. However, thanks to a Bible study group, he read and appreciated the Pope's encyclical. This profoundly and radically changed him, transforming his lifestyle "centred on myself" to one "aimed at society". Since then, Jonathan has become a true lover of nature, and is very committed to initiatives for the protection of the environment. "Ecology and the environment are not significant topics in Hong Kong. Our daily life is more focused on economic issues, such as financial investment."

Sumbal Tariq explained to those present how much water and its preservation are issues of crucial importance in his city. "Inspired by Laudato si', I began to engage in planting trees and protecting the springs of water like rivers, trying to prevent waste from being dumped."

Bishop Prapdi reiterated that the two boys, albeit coming from diverse social and environmental contexts, represent a model of young Catholics who have been able to bring the spirit of the encyclical into their lives and become a valid example for others. The bishop then recounted the series of environmental challenges he faces each day in his diocese, extending over a vast and remote territory. Numerous mines (legal and illegal) and deforestation for palm plantations are just two of the threats to the West Kalimantan ecosystem.


Pope on the Transfiguration


The event of the Lord's Transfiguration (which the Church celebrates August 6) "that invites us to meet Jesus and to be at the service of our brothers" suggests a way to live the holidays, because "rest and detachment from everyday occupations can re-energise the forces of the body and spirit, deepening the spiritual path."

Pope Francis explained the mystery of the Transfiguration of Jesus, in front of the disciples Peter, James and John, "led up a high mountain" (Mt 17:1), binding it to the way in which to use the time of summer break, without forgetting "the summer of those who cannot have holidays" for illness, economic reasons, or work.

"The ascension of the disciples to Mount Tabor leads us to reflect on the importance of detaching ourselves from worldly things, to make a way up and contemplate Jesus. This is to give us a careful and prayerful listening to Christ, the beloved Son of the Father, searching for moments of prayer that allow the docile and joyful reception of the Word of God. We are called to rediscover the peaceful and rejuvenating silence of the Bible's gospel, leading to a destiny of beauty, of splendour and joy. And when we put the Bible into our hands, we feel this inner joy that the Word of God produces in us. In this perspective, summer time is a providential moment to increase our commitment in seeking and meeting with the Lord. During this period, students are free from school, and many families take their holidays; in this period of rest and detachment from daily occupations, it is important that the body and spirit forces can be renewed, deepening the spiritual path. " 


Fr Edward McGrath SJ – a lifelong friend

Janina Gomes

I have known Fr McGrath since I was in school. I remember my father took me to XLRI one morning to meet Fr McGrath. It was he who first encouraged me to write. He lent me a book called 'Mr Blue', about an unconventional man who was daring enough to live life on his own terms. When I wrote my first article, he was delighted and persuaded me to give it to the Bells of St Mary, the magazine of St Mary's Parish in Jamshedpur.

From that time, we remained good friends. He always enquired after me, and sent me Christmas greetings. Despite all his teaching commitments at XLRI, he found time for those who were not students of XLRI and many others.

In later years, once I began to write for the 'Speaking Tree' and other newspapers, he encouraged me, saying: "You never know how many people's lives you might touch with your writings." So when difficult circumstances came my way, he taught me not to grumble, but to accept it all, and become a wiser and better person because of them.

Even after retirement, he devoted himself to a service centre in Odisha, teaching people simple skills and training them to speak and write in functional English, so that more employment opportunities and doors would open for them, later in life.

He had health problems for a long time, but still kept in touch with his friends and well-wishers. Fr McGrath was always a warm person, always smiling, and I never saw him lose his cool, though he must have been angry sometimes. He encouraged sports and other extracurricular activities, and the lawns of XLRI were always agog with excitement.