Youth Matters: Stronger relationships

By Samuel Clear, Director of Youth Evangelisation

This past month I had the privilege of both welcoming four qualified youth ministers to the Archdiocese, and participating in a local group of fourteen young adults contributing to the ongoing Synod on, “Where is the Holy Spirit calling us?” Neither were one-off encounters.

I’ve spent multiple days with the youth ministers and some of the youth groups, and the local young adults met twice, but with lots of phone and email discussions in between. Through both immersions into the world of those ten to fifteen years younger than me, it has struck me how thirsty Catholic youth are for genuine Christian community – to have friends they can pray with, who they can discuss difficult topics with, and who can encourage them in their faith journey.

One young woman recently suggested to me that a Catholic hotline should be made available for youth and young adults to call when they needed guidance. I’ll admit I can relate to this from when I was a university student. I had difficult questions, but I didn’t know anyone to ask. I’d continually scour the foyers of churches for brochures on those difficult topics, but I wasn’t pregnant, nor considering a vocation, so the brochures weren’t much help to me.

In the end the change came when I finally made some Catholic friends who came from Catholic families who spoke openly about Catholic beauty, even amidst very real issues and struggles. Within that atmosphere I finally felt comfortable to ask those difficult questions. I didn’t always receive straight-forward answers, but that was the wonderful part of it; learning that the questions I struggled with didn’t always have simple answers. I learnt that the struggle was shared. I learnt that I wasn’t alone. I was also challenged to go deeper and to let go.

Youth minister, Mark De Silva, overlooking Tasmania’s Central Highlands.
Youth minister, Mark De Silva, overlooking Tasmania’s Central Highlands.

One of the young adults contributing to the Synodal response commented that they felt it was “unfair” that most of their deep questions are answered through internet searches. There are some great websites and books out there, but nothing can replace mutual discipleship, walking with one another. The difference between reading a book, and being handed a book by a friend who asks questions about what you thought about the book after you’ve read it is the experience of love.

If you have the chance to invite a few young adults over for dinner, grab them, and talk faith at the dinner table. If you have a passion for an area of beauty in the faith, share it openly with the young adults in your parish. We all long for friendship, and we’re all wondering something about faith that we wish we could share.

Tags: Northern Deanery, Southern Deanery, Youth Evangelisation, Youth Evangelisation