Opportunities for Young People
Providing opportunities for young people to grow in faith is a task for everyone in our churches. The Partnership Youth Ministry Group can discuss how its members can encourage a conversation in their communities about this.
We seek firstly to give young people a sense of belonging to the church community. How do we demonstrate this welcome to them? This can be as simple as including young people in events and activities that are already happening and inviting them to participate. It might mean that some adults need to let go of roles or share them. It might mean being generous with invitations. It might mean asking young people for their help and opinions. It will certainly mean being open to change. Linking with local schools is also an important aspect of our welcome.
It is vital to remember we are on a journey together. Creating opportunities for adults and young people to grow in faith together is part of who we are.
As we come up with practical ideas and initiatives, it’s good to pause and ask at what level can this happen … partnership, inter-parish, parish?
We are blessed in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle to have so much going on for young people, for those who choose to be involved. Parishes and Partnerships are in a unique position to ensure that young people know what is offered to them.
There are groups, activities, events throughout the year as well as the ongoing parish work week to week, not to mention the first witness of families who share their faith with young people.
In trying to capture just what’s happening throughout the Diocese, we might inevitably miss a few things. If you have something to add why not get in touch? Contact Us
While much can be done at local level, an important task for the Group is to discern what can happen at Partnership level. What can be done together? For example, a retreat or a pilgrimage may be organised. Young people themselves will have ideas for planning a Partnership wide event.
Sometimes events happen at national level as in the biannual Flame Congress or initiatives such as The Big Church Day Out. At international level, the World Youth Day celebration occurs every 3 years. These can all be life-changing events.
Stepping Stones along the Way
As young people grow in their faith and take their place in the Church, they begin to discover who God is calling them to be both now and in the future. Each young person has a unique vocation to fulfil and the opportunities we give can provide an environment where they hear God speaking to them.
Encouraging young people even when they are nervous can have amazing effects! We have heard of young people who reluctantly went to an event or group and the impact on them has been awesome. Never underestimate what your encouragement can do.
Support young people, inform them of the choices but do not fear. The Holy Spirit will guide them and you as you support them in the choices they make and you will see a transformation in their life and faith because of the opportunities they choose to take up.
‘This is what we need: a Church for young people which will know how to speak to their heart and enkindle, comfort and inspire enthusiasm in it with the joy of the Gospel and the strength of the Eucharist; a Church which will know how to invite and welcome the person who seeks a purpose for which to commit his or her life; a Church which is not afraid to ask much after having given much; which does not fear asking from the young people the effort of a noble and authentic adventure, such as following the Gospel.’
(Pope John Paul II, World Day of Prayer for Vocation, 1995)
World Youth Day Experiences
I’m not really sure why I decided to sign up to go to a World Youth Day, considering I didn’t really know anyone and was injured at the time, but something inside me just jumped at the opportunity. I can’t do any justice through words as to how amazing this journey was. We met people from different countries and different walks of life. We listened to how some people were born into Catholicism and how others found it themselves. I noticed the different ways in which people prayed, and through conversations with different people, that my faith or the way I portray it, is nothing to be ashamed of.
I tried new foods, attempted the Polish language (with no success), found out the McDonald’s restaurants in Poland were a bit nicer than the British ones, and obviously had to try the famed Polish vodka with new friends. It was a week where I felt nothing but pure happiness, we even laughed about the horrendous sunburn and insect bites. Most importantly to me, I made new friendships and deepened old ones. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, even though I turned up at the airport saying that I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t recommend attending a World Youth Day highly enough. I’m waiting to hear about the next one, so I might even see you there.
When I went to World Youth Day in Krakow I was very nervous because I had never been abroad or outside of the Diocese before except for university. I was blown over by all the events in Krakow, everywhere you looked there was a sea of youth across the city. Over 2.5 million young people came to the pilgrimage to see Pope Francis for the Papal Mass.
I would have to say my favourite part of the whole experience was the English Catechesis. There were hundreds of young people in a marquee praising the Lord from all over the world and from countries as far away as America and Australia. Making friends and sharing my faith with those who were in the marquee was an amazing experience and I even taught an Australian some Geordie!
I would advise any individual who is wanting to attend a World Youth Day celebration to be fully open to take part because I think this experience strengthened my faith and my relationship with the Lord.