Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Spiritual Life and Young Koreans

 For some time now the young people have been moving away from the church. Preparation for employment, many external reasons have brought about alienation from the community of faith but also a weak faith life is also a consideration. Even though this is a reality the spiritual longing remains within, consequently the need for the church to provide spiritual care in experiencing the joy of the faith. Articles in both Catholic papers bring this situation to the attention of the readers often.

When students they concentrated on their studies. In the past they had a vague hope that they would join a good company if they graduate from college and the future would take off from there. But after the economic recession, young people dream of a stable income instead of a specific goal or dream. Besides economic factors, other social realities are helping to change the lives of the young people.

Young people in the church also can't escape the social influence. According to the National Statistical Office, the unemployment rate in South Korea which was 7.6 percent in 2012 rose to 9.8 % in 2017.  This is in contrast to the gradual decline in the OECD average youth unemployment rate and contrasted with Japan which declined from 6.2% to 4.7% in 2017. The population of the young people is decreasing but the number competing for jobs has increased but we see a decline in the creation of jobs and a decrease in the number of the elderly who are retiring.

The difficulties of the young are not only economic but psychological. College students are dealing with academic work, part-time job, and preparation for the job market. Campus life for the young is far from a romantic time. In a survey made in 2016, the number going to Sunday Mass was 55% and not attending was 22%. Preparation for employment takes all their time.

In s previous Catholic Student Council survey, 37.42% of the respondents answered that the big problems are those that come from within and not the external ones. These are the ones that make them unhappy, followed by 'problems from human relations' and 'insecurity'.

It's a fact that during the difficult times of the IMF the numbers coming to the church increased and the young people are no exception they desired a place in which to rest. The worries about employment are only one of the problems they face.

One priest working with the young feels the problem is that many of the young have no foundation in their faith because of the emphasis on school and their studies from an early age. When knowledge of faith grows from being near to nothing; they still have to live with stress the placing of their internal spiritual life on the back burner remains there as they grow in age. They never experienced the joy of being a Catholic. Those who had a family with a strong faith life were able to make the transition in difficult times with the support of the family.

Authorities both in and outside the Church acknowledge that the situation of the young people in society is formidable. But there is definitely hope. Those who have experienced the joy of the spiritual  life continue no matter how difficult.

Young people also want to solve their difficulties with their faith. They need to solve these problems through spiritual care. In addition, empathy towards the young and dialogue with the young people at eye level, is necessary for those working with the young.