Getting to know people in the community and sharing their joys and anxieties in a way that ties in with the gospel was seen as key in young peoples’ dreams for the church.
This arose from a panel discussion with four young people at a gathering of the heads of church agencies last month to boost support for ministry with the young beyond July’s World Youth Day.
This was the first time the New Zealand Bishops’ Conference agency leaders, diocesan managers and leaders of national movements have come together for such a gathering to focus on WYD and, perhaps more importantly, beyond.
On the panel were St Mary’s College student Kristell Guieb, university student Antonia McBryde, Brendan Garrick, a student from St Bernard’s College, and a senior teacher at Ss Peter and Paul’s School in Lower Hutt, Alan Grant.
Each had been given a set of questions to prepare for the discussion including the challenge to imagine an ideal faith community 10 years from now. Questions were also fielded from the floor.
Kristell told of spending a social justice day, during the Journey of the Cross and Icon through the country last June, ‘helping those less fortunate than us’ at the Wellington City Mission.
‘We found that if you just put in a little bit, you get so much out of it.’
As well as focusing on young people in the church, Kristell said it was important to support them in what they are doing now, like in the Vinnies groups.
Antonia McBryde saw merit in people other than the priest offering homilies and she dreamt of having a whole Mass in Māori, to acknowledge te reo as our first national language.
For her, it would be good to have ‘everyone in the community reflecting on the gospel and on what’s going on outside the Eucharist’.
Alan hoped for a faith community that helped him to live well.
‘Within that I would hope to have real models.’
He said the emphasis was not necessarily on people wanting him to pray better but rather encouraging him to do all things well.
‘We need to become living examples to others, not making huge gestures but in simple acts.’
Antonia saw a blurring of the lines between church and community with groups supporting each other ‘in life not just in church. These are the people who support you all the way through life.’
She saw benefits for the church in drawing on the ‘gifts of women and young people and having that nurturing quality in life’.
For Alan there was no clear distinction between social life and spiritual life.
‘Within the faith community I am encouraged to explore all ideas with other people who can offer me different ways of thinking.’
In 10 years Antonia saw that New Zealanders would be ‘multi-ethnic and bicultural’ with ‘a different sense of being of this land and a different kind of unity that comes with that.’
All agreed that they would like the structure and style of liturgy to be ‘a bit more flexible’.
Picture shows: Brendan Garrick, Kristell Guieb, Antonia McBryde and Alan Grant.