Interview with Mr Raphael Makoto, VIDES Japan
Tokyo, 4 December 2019 -- On the Feast of Christ the King, the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life was happy to announce the establishment of an International Youth Advisory Body made up of 20 young people from different regions of the world and some international movements, associations and communities. A specific request was made in the Final Document of the 2018 Synod for the creation of an entity like this in order to reinforce the work being done by the Youth Office of the Dicastery (cf. no. 123). Two of the 20 youth are part of the Salesian Youth Movement: Ms Carina Baumgartner (Salesian Youth Movement, Austria.) and Mr Raphael Makoto Yamada (VIDES, Japan). Raphael shares his experience with AustraLasia readers:
How were you chosen for this ‘International Youth Advisory Body’?
I attended the "International Youth Forum" chosen from Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan. I shared the Japanese Pastoral situation especially of Catholic Youth, including Salesians' activities and my charity work in Japan which is very challenging.
Then, around October 2019, I received a letter directly from the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life in the Vatican. It invited me to join the new project which was led by Pope Francis, called the "International Youth Advisory Body". Its purpose is to promote the Synodal process for Catholic Youth after publishing "Christus Vivit" and the Synod on Youth in 2018.
What about your involvement in the Youth Synod 2018 process?
Yes, I was invited to attend one of the post-Synod events, namely ‘International Youth Forum’ last June 19-22, 2019. There were more than 100 nationalities and during the group workshop we shared about "Christus Vivit" from various point of views in different countries.
I told them that Japan is now at the crossroads welcoming many foreigners, and local churches are becoming multi-cultural. We are shifting into a new dimension of evangelization in Japan with much information spreading by Social Media and facing various issues locally and globally.
Also we were going to welcome Pope Francis and we had a great time with him. So it will help to change the attitude of Catholic Church to become more open to diversity. This was also pointed by Pope Francis during his recent Japan visit, during his encounter with Catholic Youth Movements in Sophia University, young people living in the area suffering from the earthquake, and people with various social issues in Tokyo.
I will share our Japanese experience again during our meeting next April 2020 in the Vatican, as a member of the "International Youth Advisory Body".
What touched your heart during your reading of ‘Christus Vivit’?
I have read "Christus Vivit". It was courageous for young people to have a confidence to be more creative and proactive for their work. Pope Francis writes to the young to "be protagonists of the revolution of charity and service" (CV 174). This applies to me very well and some participants in the Vatican workshop said that this was a point of reference for all young people.
What are your expectation about the Youth Advisory Council work next April 2020?
My dream is about the same point of reference. In this way we can work on each country's pastoral issues through one common platform - website, to share about our different local pastoral challenges. We can exchange volunteers amongst us and inspire each other from different points of view. It will give all of us the experience of "giving" for the international communities and these experiences will also make Japan more proactive for charity movement and hear what God wants us through collaboration. International Youth Advisory Body will be one of the venues to discuss what Catholic Youth want and share opinions with people in Vatican.
As a member of the Salesian Youth Movement, I think, that this meeting is important for promoting the Salesian style of "being proactive" in social issues and always trying to "collaborate" with some people around us. At present I’m working as Public Relationship manager at VIDES Japan, an international Salesian (FMA) voluntary organization, a voluntary groups with many young people facing local and global issue. As a VIDES member I would like to connect with other VIDES groups worldwide and collaborate with them to face many challenges for the future!
Along with With Makoto Yamada, there are altogether 4 Asian representatives among the 20 Advisory Body members: Agatha Lydia Natania (Indonesia), Jesvita Princy Quadras (India) and Émile Abou Chaar (Lebanon).
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