Kiwis in Rome for youth-focused meeting


Auckland diocese Youth and Young Adult Ministry team leader Teresa McNamara and Isabella McCafferty from Wellington archdiocese’s Family and Young Church Vicariate have been chosen as delegates to an international meeting in Rome from April 5-9. 

The meeting is being organised by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

The theme of the meeting will be “From Krakow to Panama-The Synod Journeying with Young People”.

A letter signed by dicastery Prefect Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Synod of Bishops secretary–general Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said “the meeting will be a special opportunity to make a contribution to preparations for the next synod of bishops”.

According to a Vatican press release in January, “on this occasion, the [Synod] Preparatory Document and the dynamic of consultation in the particular Churches will be presented to the heads of youth pastoral care of the episcopal conferences”.

There will be a brief assessment of the World Youth Day Krakow 2016 on the first day of the meeting and a presentation on the preparations for World Youth Day Panama 2018 on April 8.

On April 9, Palm Sunday, the WYD cross and icon will be turned over by the Krakow youth to the Panamanian youth at a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square.

Ms McNamara said to be present at this Mass will be amazing.

“Internationally, Palm Sunday is recognised as World Youth Day each year. So, it’s a very significant day in our Church calendar for us who are ministering to young people,” she said.

Both delegates said they were incredibly excited about the opportunity.

Ms McCafferty said it was “an immense privilege”.

“I am very grateful to the New Zealand bishops for this chance to expand my experience of the universal Church and for the impact that this opportunity will have on my long term ministry,” she added.

Ms McCafferty said she will be able to bring both her experiences as a young person in a widely diverse Church as well as a worker in the youth ministry.

“My key intention is to listen. I hope to return to New Zealand with a clear idea of how the New Zealand Church can begin to engage with the ongoing preparations for the synod of bishops.

“It is my desire to be able to reflect deeply on what is said during the meeting, on conversations I may have and on what is being asked of the universal Church; in the hope that this will be a life-giving process for the local Church and its people,” she said.

Ms McNamara said there will be a lot to look forward to in the meeting.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity to hear firsthand what’s planned (in Panama) and to meet other people who are in similar roles to me from other countries is going to be huge,” she said.

But beyond the meeting in Rome, she said, “[in the next five to ten years] there’s a real opportunity for us to look at how young people identify and claim a place in the world today and how they use their Catholic faith as a lens for living life.”

The theme of the 15th general assembly of the synod of bishops in October, 2018 is “young people, faith and vocational discernment”.

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Rowena Orejana

Reader Interactions


  1. John says

    As a father and now Grandfather I welcome this venture by two ladies, and look forward to new events in the Catholic church as regards the ongoing story of youth; No doubt there are many others who do likewise . And it is bound to ricochet much further than New Zealand. Pray God it does.
    In a society where values are being eroded daily, youth are particularly vulnerable to the changes of the times.
    The errors that have continued unabated within academic circles in the church, filtering out to the youth of today, it is clear that attempts to provide a dialogue are too often an opportunity for more errors, as the original premises have still not been dealt with. The late Cardinal Martini spoke of the need for the church to engage with the times, an interview that was published posthumously. It is now clear that Pope Francis has his finger on the pulse and that Cardinal Martini’s words have not gone unnoticed. Now trends long awaited which are working as never before.
    Youth MUST be invited to enter the mystery; for God is a mystery. If they are discouraged they will simply fall away. So it is incumbent upon those who are in places of trust in influential circles in the Church to enter this mystery themselves, for them to seek to enter it readily and regularly, for indeed youth are very quick to notice, and will invariably act accordingly. To put it into a nutshell, the need for listening skills in every encounter is vital. it is not only gaining empirical knowledge but a revaluing of religious experience and journeying on through the many experiences that do occur and which point the way. St Joseph simply listened to a dream. Yet this dream was sufficient to alter the cosmos.
    To make this abundantly clear, I relate two simple events which touch this also. It concerns a boy who told his mother when she was miscarrying, the sex of each twin, all of which was confirmed later by the doctor. He was aged THREE. Another is of a girl. Her father working away on Saturday at four thirty felt a call. Having packed up his work, tidied up, he drove home, and asked his daughter if she called him. She replied; “You mean on the telephone?” He said “No”. She asked again, “Do you mean from my heart?” He said “yes”. She then replied “Yes”. That girl was aged FIVE.
    Spiritual direction IS available, for parents, and OUGHT be encouraged, for to support every venture there has to be parental support, and openness, so that children may grow. It is asking too much to simply leave it all to educators, and for many parents it is giving in to the values promoted by television which has effectively destroyed shame in the west, removing the natural means for keeping society within the normal community and civic boundaries.
    By entering into a conversation with those who are primarily in accord with the Magisterium, there is an immediate flow on into community. This has the potential to lift spirits and to heroically re-engage in the constant struggle to contain the excesses which are currently acting against the best Catholicism has to offer in its priceless heritage that began long before Descartes ever emerged on the scene.
    There is much heroism needed, but if individuals are prepared to face their own greatest inadequacies their true potential can then be realised.

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