by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — The more than 80 participants of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Conference last month will get a letter from themselves reminding them of the commitments they made at the conference.
Organiser Teresa McNamara, Auckland’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry coordinator, said conference feedback was positive. “The contrasting speakers worked really well,” she said.
Sr Helen Bergin, OP, talked about the Holy Spirit. Dr Chris Duthie-Jung expounded on how ministries can connect better to young people, and Roby Curtis challenged them to take the faith to people in the streets.
“Roby challenged participants not to stay in their comfort zone of doing what they are already doing, but to take a big step out in faith, knowing God is with them,” she said.
The conference was a mix of theory and practical sessions participants could take home. “It’s a good challenge for all of us, because we tend to do what we have previously done. And if we keep doing that, then we get the same results as we’ve got now.”
One workshop discussed youth on the fringes of the faith. Discussion evolved from identifying who are on the fringes, to who is a Catholic. Participants shared their experiences with youth and how they see the Church. Some they work with see the Church, particularly the Mass, as boring and not a place for them.
“There’s a challenge to get young people to live sacramentally,” said the director of the Marist Brothers Alternative Education Programme, Shane Coleman.
The other challenge, another participant said, is how to engage young people in a discussion of their faith. “Young people have deep theological questions, but don’t have anyone to ask,” one said.
Ms McNamara said the good thing about that workshop was starting the discussion. “I think the
next step now is to think about who those people are and give them a voice. Do they even want to be more connected to the Church, or are they actually quite happy in their relationship right now?” she asked.
Ms McNamara said one high point was the Diocesan Youth Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, with 1000 young people making it joyous. “One participant told me that just going to that Mass made the whole trip worthwhile, because it was so inspiring.”