Catholic youth in Cuba live under drastically different conditions than youth in the Diocese of Brooklyn. They live in fear that what they say may be monitored by the government and could have real consequences for their families. They do not benefit from many of the technologies easily accessible in the United States and they have fewer options when they finish school.
When it comes to their religion they benefit from far fewer church buildings and priests. Nonetheless, the vigor of the youth and love of the Holy Spirit can be seen as clearly in Cuba as in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Carlos Javier Lopez, a young Catholic from the Havana Diocese, said the Catholic Church is a big part of his life and the life of his peers. He said their religion brings them unity and comfort, but it is not always easy.
“Most of the young people here are Catholic,” he said. “And those who are not, we hope will be one day. The most difficult thing here for a young Catholic, is to maintain oneself in the love of Christ. And that’s why we came, and come to church: to remain in faith that one day we will see Christ.”
Young Catholics from throughout Cuba volunteered to help their church community welcome Pope Benedict XVI during his recent visit to their country.
“I … came here to see the pope and feel the joy, which is to be in close proximity to him,” Lopez said.
During the papal Masses, a large portion of the attendees were young people. “He comes to strengthen our faith, to bring a message of peace, of love, of hope,” said Victoria Villarreal, who was a youth volunteer for the papal event in Santiago.