Please listen to us… Unheard cry of the young people

N. Parthasarathi, SJ - Chennai Province
[From “Jesuits 2023 - The Society of Jesus in the world”]

Motivation to stand aside young people based on the experience of accompaniment given by All India Catholic University Federation.

It was one fine evening, as I was getting ready to proceed to our Loyola College ground for games, as was my wont. My cell phone rang. On picking it up, I distinctly heard the caller’s request: “Father! Could you please spare a while to listen to me?” That was a call from a damsel in distress. Sensing immediately the urgency of that call, I replied “Feel free, sister”. My Jesuit availability necessitated my rearranging the schedule for that evening. “Playing that evening” was pushed from the first place.

Noticing my response, she introduces herself in a low voice. She belongs to a Dalit (the most marginalized community in our country) family. Her parents are daily-wage earners (working, but not-owning any piece of agricultural land). She was the best student in the school. When she expressed to her parents her wish to proceed with her collegiate studies, she could not elicit any joyful response from them. Her parents were aware of some ‘firsts’ to her credit. She is the first girl from her village to complete the school studies. And another ‘first’ in her must have caused some anxiety in her parents. She is the first of the three girls in her family. With much hesitation they said “Yes” to her studies. Her simple unspoken response that evening was that she would make her parents happy by securing the college-topper position. That, definitely, would be an inspiration for her two younger sisters.

She attends her college activities travelling daily by bus that is heavily crowded; and runs with limited frequency. This travel causes her several woes: almost every day, the men of her village belonging to the so-called upper caste abuse her mentally. Also, they don’t hesitate to harm her physically too. For fear that her dream of college-life would be brought to an end; she has not mentioned to her parents this cruel crime. She suffers a lot and there is no one to listen to her cry. After sharing this to me, I could feel the hope radiating from her heart and the joy of relief from pain.


Finally, she thanked the Jesuits for the college and for providing the much-needed financial help for her. She also salutes the Jesuit movement All India Catholic University Federation (known as AICUF). The youth in the AICUF are keen on essentially empowering the Dalits and other marginalised sections of the society.

Yet another girl, by name Ms. Aadilakshmi, a first generation learner belonging to Irular Tribal Community, is in her last year of secondary education. She actively participates at the Jesuit Tribal Mission, namely Palavai at Tindivanam. She teaches in our evening study centre. She also enthusiastically took part in the Province Youth Commission organised three-day Green Journalism Workshop for youth in AICUF Secretariat Chennai. At a Ghram Sabha (Village Common Meeting) held in her village convened to discuss some common issues concerning the lives of people of the village, she made everyone listen to her voice saying with courage and confidence: “It is our village, we are part of this village, and we are going to be the future of this village. Why don’t you listen to our voice?”. She expressed the desires of women and children in the common forum for the first time. Today she serves as a ray of hope for the women and children of her tribal community. Her demand: we, women, have our legitimate space in the forthcoming meetings too. Men in the meeting appreciated her for her courage.

These two events linger in my heart as I journey with the young people fulfilling the expectation of the Society of Jesus. The youth today are aware that several struggles are buried silently in their hearts. Our Pope Francis calls Youth as ‘now’ of the world. Our Jesuits seek to realise the Universal Apostolic Preference that provides youth as one and important priority today. This demands that as Jesuits we are to appreciate our priority to open our ears to all, especially to young people who remain vulnerable. “Listening is Grace.” St Ignatius listened to the call of the Eternal King. It is the need of the hour that asks us to listen to the youth.


Some lessons learnt through listening to young people!

These lessons keep me, and my mission among them, alive and active... Just a thought... Try it...

• Open up our community doors for the young people to enter and experience God by our community life.

• Accompany the youth just by being and listening to them.

• Express a word of encouragement, they do wonders with this spark of positive energy.

• Don’t judge them, rather celebrate their life which is full of creativity, criticisms, and the culture of being now with joy.

• Young people long for ears. Nothing else.

• As I accompany young people, I feel grateful for their faith-filled sharing, colourful celebration of life with diversity of thoughts and actions, constructive criticisms on deconstruction of oppressive ideologies and youthful spirituality of being now with the divine.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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