CNEWA’s Megan Knighton Addresses UN Panel on Youth

NEW YORK (CNS) — Joining a panel of young speakers assembled to discuss issues affecting youths of the world, Catholic Near East Welfare Association representative Megan Knighton talked about the work of the organization and showed videos highlighting its mission.

“We are standing between what has been and what could be,” Knighton said.

The conference was held July 25 at the Church of the Holy Family during an event sponsored by the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations. It was timed to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly’s high–level meeting on youths, July 25–26.

Among the projects Knighton highlighted, one illustrated how, through the efforts of CNEWA, women and girls are being empowered in Ethiopia and their community life is improving with access to clean water and other resources.

The association serves the churches and peoples of the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. Its programs focus on formation of clergy, religious and lay leaders, building religious and social service institutions, caring for children in need and humanitarian aid and development.

“We have a moral responsibility to create a just society which includes a just distribution of services … and a world where we act out of genuine respect and love for the poor and vulnerable by listening to them and taking seriously what they have to say and what they need,” Knighton explained.

“Every good deed,” she said, addressing the young people in the audience, “no matter how seemingly small, makes a difference.”

Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Vatican’s U.N. nuncio, hosted the event, which drew about 90 people, and introduced the day’s lineup of five young speakers.

The archbishop noted that last August when U.N. Secretary–General Ban Ki–moon launched the U.N. International Year of Youth, he said “youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision– making of local, national and global levels.”

“I could not agree more. We are here today so that your voice can be heard,” Archbishop Chullikatt said.

“Youth have a significant part to play in the transformation of our society. Ours is a culture of instant gratification, of quick fixes and the quick buck,” he continued. “Today’s culture is eager to sideline God to the margins of our society.

“So, yours is the duty to transform culture following Gospel values and principles which are meant to renew societies as well as individuals. This is the challenge that lies before you.”

Besides Knighton, the panelists were Leah Darrow, of Catholic Answers; Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America; and Jeffrey Azize and Michael Campo of Grassroots Films.

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