Not Bored Anymore

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Not Bored Anymore

Albert Nampara SVD

My journey as a missionary priest has taken me from my native country of Indonesia to a parish in Menzingen, Switzerland. It was not long before I noticed that the only young people at Mass on Sundays were the altar servers. I soon realized that the youth had little interest in coming to church because, for them, it was a boring place. It was difficult to have any contact with the young people, so I wondered what I could do to give them the joy that they longed for but could not find. Then I realized that two of my own talents would give me ways to reach out to them.

I began to visit the grandparents. Gradually, I got to know their children and grandchildren. At family Masses, the youth often came with their parents, so I used those occasions to get to know families also.

I am interested in music and began to play songs the young people liked on the guitar, harmonica, keyboard, and saxophone. The young people were attracted to the music and instruments and were willing to become involved. I invited children between the ages of eight and eighteen to get together to play music. They had many different instruments including trumpets, accordion, piano, flutes, and violins and they knew how to read notes. Together we played church songs and the youth enjoyed it. Soon we were able to play during Masses. The parents have become curious and interested in what I am doing and come to Mass when their children are playing.  

We have been invited to homes for the elderly, where youth and their families play favorite songs for the residents. The people’s faces light up with joy as they sing along with us. I have also celebrated Mass at a family’s farm. Someone played an alpenhorn while young boys played accordions. Cowbells ringing in the fields could be heard in the distance.

I have always enjoyed sports, so on other occasions I have invited the young people to play badminton, volleyball, or soccer. This has given me new opportunities to get to know the children and their families. They are surprised and happy when I recognize them and call them by name at church or in other places.

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The connection between the parish, the young people, and their families is growing stronger through these activities. It gives me joy to see them at Mass and parish gatherings more regularly. 

The young people are hungry to know the truth about life and are exploring their own personal path in life. They seek the truths and values that will give authentic meaning to their lives. They want to commit themselves to what will make the world a better place. Every day they meet difficulties caused by weaknesses in family life, negative influences of the media, and confusing messages from society. They often become doubtful and confused.

I am inspired by the Emmaus story in Luke 24:13-35. Two of Jesus’ disciples walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A man they did not recognize approached and walked with them. The disciples talked about everything that had happened to Jesus, about the hopes they had had, and about the amazing story of angels and Jesus’ body not being found in the tomb. Their traveling companion began to talk about the Scriptures. It became late so they stopped. At their evening meal, the man broke bread, blessed it, and gave it to them. In that moment, the disciples knew it was Jesus and he vanished from their sight.

As a priest and pastoral leader in the Church, I want to be for the youth and people of the parish what Jesus was to his disciples: a companion traveling with them in life. Together we travel the path to the fullness of life with Jesus, our risen Lord and Savior. I will continue to do all I can to help them to believe, to share their gifts widely, and to have a sense of belonging to the global Catholic community. Hopefully they will not be bored anymore! Please pray for God’s blessings on us.

Albert Nampara SVD is from Ruteng, Indonesia. He professed first vows in 1992 and was ordained in 1999. After language studies in Germany, he took up his assignment to parish ministry in Switzerland. Currently, Fr. Nampara serves in the parish in Menzingen.

Divine Word Missionaries Magazine, Vol. LVIII No.1 Winter 2015 issued quarterly.