Blogwatcher - Challenges of youth ministry in a troubled adult Church


Parramatta diocesan pastoral planning officer and CathNews blogger Daniel Ang has decided to branch out with his own blog Time of the Church, the title inspired by the work of French theologians Yves Congar and Henri de Lubac.

In a recent post, Daniel highlights the challenges of youth ministry in a "haemorrhaging" adult Church.

I once heard youth ministry colourfully described as a ‘bandaid on a bleeding artery’. While those committed to the evangelisation and support of youth might resist such a diagnosis it nevertheless points to the fact that outreach to young people cannot be thought of apart from the health of the adult Church.

It strikes me that if the adult Church is haemorrhaging – because of poor preaching and liturgy, a thin sense of belonging or a lack of support for instance – then there is little prospect that young members will be sustained in their faith as they mature.

Meanwhile, Michael Cook at Mercatornet laments the coldness of a society that allowed two blind, deaf Belgian twins to be euthanased:

They look at you with mild detachment. Not aggressive. Not friendly. Not happy. Not sad. Just detached. Two balding middle-aged Belgians with shaved heads, scruffy growth, and dark-rimmed oval glasses. They were the face of 45-year-old identical twins Marc and Eddy Verbessem.

Two weeks before Christmas, a doctor euthanased them at Brussels University Hospital. It was a perfectly legal procedure. All the boxes had been ticked and all the documents signed. The two men were deaf and slowly going blind as well. They had nothing to live for. They qualified.

But nearly everyone felt that there was something inhumanly cold about a society which failed these simple men when they could see and killed them when they couldn’t.

For a different response to a similarly challenging life event, Sue Elvis has posted a third party review of her book, Grief, Love and Hope, which deals with the death of her baby son Thomas.

I knew Sue before I knew about her baby, Thomas. Then I found out about Thomas, and that Sue had written a book about him, and her experience of having a baby born who could not live once he was born. This book was born out of her need to write her thoughts down, her desire to remember every thing she possibly could of her child's brief life, and also, for her children to share their memories of their baby brother. "I wanted to make a permanent record of Thomas' short life and the effect it had on our own lives. I am so glad we had you. I wrote your story as a sign of our love."

For those who hope to comfort, it is an honest account. For those who have walked this path already - of having an infant child die, maybe within hours of birth - it will comfort, because of how honest it is: pain so painful is somehow more bearable when shared.

Still on life issues over in the US Fr J Bryan Hehir asks what would the late Fr John Courtney Murray SJ have to say about today's moral battles over abortion, or the controversy surrounding the mandate that requires Catholic institutions to pay for contraception for their employees?

Meanwhile, on another hot button issue, 50 Catholic theologians have signed a statement calling for more US regulation of lethal weapons:

All Americans share responsibility for public safety. This requires reasonable measures to regulate the sale and use of lethal weapons. As faithful citizens – Catholic theologians, priests, sisters and social justice advocates – we join our bishops, the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA in calling for common-sense reforms to address the epidemic of gun violence in our nation. Pro-life citizens and elected officials have a responsibility to show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

We especially encourage our fellow Catholics in Congress, including prominent leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner, to stand up to the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists who choose to obstruct sensible reforms.

Moving to another area of moral concern, Mark Shea reflects on the difference between capitalist and distributist economic theories:

“A rising tide lifts all boats, ” we are told. However, in the Third World the boats seem to often sail away, full of rich people and leaving the poor in sweat shops or as hungry as these people, who find that they can no longer afford the quinoa that was their staple diet now that trendy Westerners have raised the price for it beyond their meager means. They get to work and starve. We get to profit from it. One of those Circle of Life things.

Or, as Chesterton said, the problem with capitalism is that there are too few capitalists.

Meanwhile, in happier news, the New Belgium Brewing Company is now 100% employee-owned. These are the people who bring you Fat Tire Amber Ale. This is what we call Distributism in action.

“But I thought Distributism was just Chesterton-speak for socialism!”

No “Socialism” is Chesterton-speak for socialism. With capitalism, most people work for a few rich and powerful people but don’t own the means of production. With socialism, most people work for the state, but don’t own the means of production. With Distributism, you own the joint.

Looking at social media this week, New Zealand based Trey Ratcliff, who recently did photowalks in Melbourne and Sydney, posted one of his HDR images of churches on Google Plus yesterday:

Check out more of Ratcliff's striking church photos here.

And finally for those parishes having a hard time stringing together a choir, a British company has found a hit on its hands with its latest offering of a karaoke-style electronic hymnals, the UK Telegraph notes:

A new range electronic “hymnals”, adapting music systems for ecclesiastical purposes, have proved an unexpected hit with priests and vicars.

Controlled from a small screen in the pulpit or lectern, it provides backing music for congregations while projecting the lyrics onto walls - with the words appearing in time with the music just like in karaoke systems.

Clergy program in their “play list” for each service in advance, choosing from a “repertoire” includes the full Anglican hymn book and favourites from the BBC’s Songs of Praise.

As well as traditional pipe organ and choral sounds it can switch to more unlikely offerings such as a Caribbean calypso style.

Based on a system first used in America, the “Hymnal Plus” has proved an unexpected hit in the UK.


Michael MullinsStefan Gigacz is preparing a PhD. at MCD University of Divinity, Melbourne, on the role of Joseph Cardijn at Vatican II.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.

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