“Where are the young people?” This same question has been asked for generations and generations. The youth are around. Sure they may not all be in active ministry or bringing groups of friends to Sunday worship but they are there, in our pews with their families or sitting by themselves, in our schools, in our cafes making us coffee and stacking shelves at our supermarkets. They may not always be in the brick building that many of us consider our “Parish” but they are within our communities. I believe the question should be more along the lines of how are we as communities of faith encountering, engaging with, and encouraging active participation with our young people?

Pope Francis has recently released a Post-Synodal Exhortation to Young People and to the entire People of God titled Christus Vivit in response to the Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on young people, faith and vocational discernment held in 2018. In chapter two of Christus Vivit, subtitled Jesus, ever young, Pope Francis writes in verse 24 ‘The Gospel tells us nothing of Jesus’ childhood, but it does recount several events of his adolescence and youth. Matthew situates the time of the Lord’s youth between two events: his family’s return to Nazareth after their exile, and Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the beginning of his public ministry…. Our first image of Jesus as a young adult shows him standing among the crowds on the banks of the Jordan river to be baptized by his kinsman John the Baptist, just like any other member of his people (cf. Mt 3:13-17).’

Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus’ public ministry did not start until he was in the prime of his life as a young adult. Before Jesus’ baptism where he was filled with the spirit and begun his public ministry, he was simply a young man like many others in his town. He learnt his father’s trade, did the same things as other young people of the time and was seen as no different to others. It was only after his baptism in the river Jordan, that he went on many spirit led adventures. Pope Francis writes in CV27 ‘From what the Gospel tells us, we can say that Jesus, in the years of his youth, was “training”, being prepared to carry out the Father’s plan. His adolescence and his youth set him on the path to that sublime mission.’

Just like Jesus was in his youth, our young people are on an adventurous journey of their own. We are developing and preparing to take up our mission in life which for many is the unknown. Young people are not the future of the church but a part of the present church and are not children anymore but young adults taking on responsibilities, growing families and finding their place in our ever-changing world.

The Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young people (DCMYP) has a vision of Be – Grow – Show. To be people of faith, who grow in our faith, and show our faith. As a group we are working together to provide meaningful and exciting opportunities to encounter, engage with and empower young people. We’re attempting to do this through a number of initiatives and different styles such as formation, prayer and social activities as outlined below.

  • Thread Days – gathering four times a year as an opportunity for people ministering or working with young people for prayer, formation and networking.
  • Sacred @ Seven – guided holy hour of adoration held four times a year, with music, readings and discussion.
  • Pints with a Purpose - the first Monday night of each month at The Northern Star Hotel Hamilton hosting various speakers to encourage thoughtful discussions and a deeper understanding of our Catholic faith.
  • Spirit in the Snow – a social three day adventure to the snowy mountains for snow play, exploring and fellowship.
  • Fire and Friends – an overnight camping trip in Chichester state forest situated along the beautiful Telegherry River.
  • World Youth Day – a gathering of millions of young people in a chosen host city, from all across the world, to celebrate their faith.
  • Australian Catholic Youth Festival – a national gathering of youth to provide them with opportunities to deepen their relationship with Jesus, be empowered to be disciples today’s world, encounter and celebrate the vitality of the Church in Australia.

Many of our regular participants at these initiatives have begun to explore and engage with their faith after school. For many of these young people it has been an experience of meeting others and forming friendships with other likeminded faith filled young people that has led them closer to Christ.

CV 129 Pope Francis writes, ‘if you are willing to encounter the Lord, if you are willing to let him love you and save you, if you can make friends with him and start to talk to him, the living Christ, about the realities of your life, then you will have a profound experience capable of sustaining your entire Christian life. You will also be able to share that experience with other young people. For “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”’

If you are interested in finding out about any of the initiatives or work of the DCMYP you can engage with us on social media platforms by following MN Catholic Youth, you can email us at Youth.Ministry@mn.catholic.org.au and you can find more info and contact details for us under the church and mission tab of the diocesan website. Next time you find yourself asking the question “where are the young people?” I encourage you to rephrase to “how are we as communities of faith or how am I encountering, engaging with, and encouraging active participation with the young people around us?"

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