In the Irish Catholic last week, you may have seen the article called, Young people need to become more active in church life, this article was on the catechesis talks by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at World Youth Day where he said to the young people their is a ” serious lack of young people prepared to take an active part in Church life” and he went on to say part of the problem for young people is that believing in God has been placed on the margins of society. He also encouraged young people to go and knock on their Parish priests or their bishops door and to say that the “Archbishop of Dublin said we have something to contribute and we want to do that”.
Firstly it is great to hear an Irish Bishop speaking to young people in this way but can this work within the Church in Ireland? For years now there has been young people inspired to contribute to the church and to take an active role but they have been turned away or not supported by some Priests and Bishops. I feel that the problem lies with the saying “you our the church of the future”, in this statement which is used by Priests and Bishops properly a reference to Pope John Paul II visit to ireland but he also said we are the church of today and that it was up to the young people of today to what Ireland was to become. He encouraged all young people to take up an active role in the church and our country, these words still echo today.
I fear that young people will again return from World Youth Day or one of the summer festivals in Knock or Clonmacnois and when they knock that door of the parish priest with a great enthusiasm to serve, that they won’t receive that same enthusiasm ,which is in their hearts, but will experience of fear that is very present in many parishes today when it comes to young people and the church.
I believe this is not just a fear because of the child abuse scandal that has rocked the church in recent years, but a fear of putting trust in young people a fear of letting go and riding the rollercoaster which always comes when young people are involed. As young people we have a big heart and Ideas but many of us our still exploring our faith and discovering new areas and new ways of expressing our faith.
But ultimately this is where our faith is most alive in that rollercoaster which is one heck of an amazing ride of life and discovery this is somthing not to be feared but to be welcomed, remembering that most of the young people who our into their faith have a great devotion to the Eucharist, Our Lady and the Church, which is where our desire comes from to serve and to be an active part within the church.
Only if we our given a chance and the trust to be part of the renewal of the church and become part of the New Evangelisation, will young people become more involed, we wish to feel part of the church today not just be its future we want a chance to shape the church into the future so we can help to build a strong and Holy church
I have a message to my fellow young people don’t be discouraged if you find the doors closing as other doors will open soon look out for them. But if the door is open do your best to show what young people can do be that powerful witness , both to our peers but also to the church set the church on fire with the love of God that you have experienced .
Priest’s and Bishop’s, young people desire your leadship do not be afraid, tell them the truth for it is what we desire and long for, form us and mould us as new witnesses of the faith, use the fire within our hearts, please don’t let it go out, this is the life of the church not just for tomorrow but for today. Approach us and make us feel welcome and part of the Church. get young people to set up prayer meetings, youth masses, alter serving, invite them on to your parish councils and committees for they will bring a new life to the church. you don’t have to go and find young people as if you support the young people already in the church they will bring thier peers to you. This will become infectious and will inspire the rest of the church and will relight their fire within thier lives and in turn set the fire of Christ burning throughout the parishes and the whole of the Irish church.
But to anwser my question i do think it is possible for young people to become an active part in every parish but I think as the irish church we need to change our view and approach to young people and to give them the trust, formation and support to allow them to set the church on fire and bring their peers to the church.
This is just my thought’s which is not meant as criticism of Priests or Bishops as I know we have many great Bishops and Priests throughout Ireland that put their trust in young people. But there is a thought that you have to be 70 or above to have any involvement within the church today this view has to change.