The role of young people and their place in the development of the future Church was the focus of a talk in Perth by an expert in parish renewal. Source: The eRecord.
Daniel Ang, the Director of Parish 2020 – a process of parish renewal and revitalisation in the Sydney Archdiocese –spoke at the Newman Siena Centre on July 4, in an event organised by the Perth Archdiocese’s Centre for Faith Enrichment.
“Our culture is changing, our Church is changing and the role of young people in our Church is perhaps a prophetic sign of how we can live the mission of Jesus in possibly new ways that have not been imagined before,” Mr Ang said.
“I think that often parishes especially want young people for their life and their vitality and the hope that young people bring to our parish communities.
“And yet, there’s a drop off in Years 11 and 12 in high school, a disinterest from Year 10 onwards – we sense also that we’re losing a lot of people after school during university and when other things come into play.
“We lose a lot of people between 25 and 35, so we don’t see many people in their late 20s and early 30s – they quietly leave and we don’t see them again.
“If youth ministry is there to prepare young people for adult discipleship, how well are we preparing young people for that broader life?” Mr Ang asked.
“Youth ministry is not simply to hold people in the Church when they’re young but it’s there to actually animate and inspire and equip young people to leave youth ministry and become adult disciples.”
Mr Ang explained that his research shows that young people aren’t necessarily attracted to parishes and communities that don’t show any life in themselves: making youth ministry not just for young people, but one that actually engages the whole Church and asks bigger questions around “what kind of Catholic culture do we foster to enable young people to be missionaries?”.
He said the call of young people to holiness and to mission is not just about young people ministering to their peers – it is also about the kind of Catholic culture that enables everyone to receive the call to holiness.