Youth organization is not strange in Nigeria. Age grade system is a basic social institution in most (if not all) Nigerian ethnic groups. The young ones are used to gather in associations where their social obligations and rights are clearly explained and pursued. With the coming of Christianity, the young Christians needed a little encouragement to gather themselves into formal groups, in Parishes, Dioceses and even ecclesiastical provinces.
The CYON is an example of a grassroots organization which can be effectively utilized in the social development of the country. As structured as the Catholic Church is, it has no paradigm or format for the formation or operation of Catholic Youth Organization. In Nigeria, the distant origin of the CYON is gathering of Youth In their Parishes to plan and execute their Christian functions within a specific Parish situation. When the need arose for youth groups in various Parishes within a Diocese to come together, the Diocesan Youth Organizations were formed. The provincial (or regional) organizations followed later.
When Pope John Paul II, in 1982, scheduled to speak to the Nigerian youth during his visit to Nigeria, the absence of a national Catholic Youth body was greatly felt during the preparation. The CYON is a response to this felt need by young Catholics of Nigeria.
This is the genesis of establishment of an organization known as and called “Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria” otherwise referred to as CYON approved by the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria. CBCN, with strong hold at provincial level to co-ordinate the activities of CYON amongst the Dioceses in the province.
CYON is an umbrella organization which brings together all catholic young people (male and female) under the age bracket of 15- 35 years of Age. Single women who have exceeded the age of 35 should be allowed an option to continue to belong to the CYON or to register in the CWO. This organization embraces while respecting the autonomy of all other youth organizations, such as Mary League Girls, Catholic Boys and Catholic Girls, Young Christian Students (YCS), Nigerian Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS), Young Christian Workers, Catholic Cadets, Youth Animators Forum etc. Every Diocese should therefore strive to bring such societies under CYON.
The organization affirms the place of youth in the Church’s life and promotes youth involvement in the work of evangelization. It outlines, promote, direct and evolve network of support for youth initiatives as groups or as individuals for the development of the Church and the Society. In CYON focus is always given to human development, youth empowerment and catechesis.
The Motto of CYON is “Let your light shine”;,It is not just a motto, but it is the strength of CYON members and group. The Patron Saint of CYON is St. Charles Lwanga and his companions. His Eminences, The Archbishops and Bishops of Nigeria shall be Grand Patrons while the National Executive of CYON shall appoint lay persons as Patrons/Patronesses who must be practicing Catholics.