Youth Matters – Love of Religious
By Sam Clear, Director of the Office of Youth Evangelisation
I’m on a plane somewhere over Bass Strait as I write this, sitting amongst six Tasmanian youth and young adults; four of them are fast asleep. We’re exhausted.
We journeyed together to the Sydney Ignite Conference to participate alongside eight-hundred other youth and young adults.
Our youth were like kids in a candy store. As soon as we walked into the venue four days ago they were off, socialising, attending workshops, participating in spectacular praise and worship rallies, attending adoration with all eight-hundred delegates, receiving the sacrament of penance, being prayed with, listening to extraordinary talks, attending daily Mass and making life-long friends.
The conference was inspiring and nourishing. Even our drive to the venue each day was memorable – a rosary, which finished each morning just in time for our youth to wind their windows down and pump out, “Ice, Ice, Baby” at full volume to announce their arrival. I was slightly embarrassed, but they were joyful.
Last night we had just enough time to have a quick look at Sydney, share a meal amongst ourselves, and then debrief our time at the conference.
There were elements they loved and elements they’d change, but it was beautiful to see them light up with excitement about their favourite part of the conference. It wasn’t the bright lights or the music.
It wasn’t the inspiring talks or the number of youth in attendance. It wasn’t even their loud arrival each morning.
Their favourite part, unanimously, was how many priests and religious sisters from so many orders were in attendance, and covering so many charisms.
Some of our teens spent more time chasing priests and Sisters than they did future spouses.
During our debrief, as the group gushed about how amazing all the religious and consecrated were, one of the teenage boys piped up authoritatively with, “We need to be taught by more nuns! Any workshop they ran, regardless of what order they were from, was awesome.”
The others agreed and shared about their deep questioning of life with them and the joyful profound answers they received.
And to have the conference capped off by a joyful, challenging talk by diocesan priest and former Tasmanian UTAS student, Fr Daniel McCaughan, inspired each person to want to know Christ deeper.
In an age where the troubles of the church are well documented and the struggles of church life are lived by many, it was inspiring and, if anything, relieving for me to see our youth so in love and appreciative of those in consecrated and religious life, living their ministry.
Please pray for our youth and young adults, for their discernment in life, and perhaps for a solid group to head to Sydney next year for the 2023 Conference.