On Saturday we hosted a day for all those involved working with young people in the deanery. By 'young people' we meant both the post-confirmation to end of secondary education age group as well as the 18-30s. Twenty eight people turned up for what turned out to be a very fruitful day. Some were involved in catechesis, other ran youth groups, and others had experience of new movements and organisations within the Church.
During the morning session we simply introduced ourselves and explained what we were doing as individuals as well as giving some insight into the wider apostolate towards young people in our parishes. This was very illuminating and I knw from the feedback that people found it very encouraging. After this session we broke for lunch which took place in the presbytery garden. Fortunately the rain held off!
During the afternoon we had a sort of 'blue-sky thinking' session. Peple were asked to consider what they would like to see happening in their parishes and in the deanery and also what resources were needed for it. There were lots of good ideas in the feedback and I'm sure quite a few people went home with some concrete proposals for their parishes. One group fed back by drawing a tree. The roots, they said, needed to be a firm foundation in the faith, in prayer life, and in friendship. This would require formation for those involved. The branches represented the fruits of of this foundation: evangelisation, catechesis, and a variety of different groups meeting the different needs young people experienced.
Next Tuesday we will feedback to the deanery Clergy Conference. One concrete proposal is that we should have an event for altar servers both to do something for them but also to show ourselves that we can work together and do good things. To my mind the development of a ministry to young people at deanery level should be seen as an integral part of our strategy to promote vocations.