Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 9, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
Be relevant to youthSince the letter that I sent to the WCR several weeks ago ("Faith must be practised," WCR, Jan. 12), I've received nothing but an overwhelmingly positive response - which, to be frank, makes me wonder whether people really understood what I was saying.
I've also heard from a lot of people saying that they agree with me, that our youth are being missed and lost, but now, they want to know what they can do about it.
Well this is what I think. I believe we have to make "relevance" the key word in our evangelization and catechesis; "relevance" has to be our goal, "relevance" has to be our judge. We have to show how Scripture is relevant, our sacraments are relevant, liturgical choices are relevant, personnel decisions are relevant, our Sunday gatherings are relevant, our faith is relevant to our everyday lives.
How does a priest pull this off? From my limited experience, I think - it's by knowing their parishioners, being part of their lives, and not being afraid to be vulnerable enough to show people how God is part of the priest's life, so people can hear their stories and relate to them.
How about a congregation? I think - it means that after receiving the Eucharist, we have to become the Eucharist. That means each parishioner has to get to know the stranger sitting in the pew next to them; it means we have to practise all that love we keep talking about.
How about the parish as a whole? I think - our churches have to become the centres of our communities, places where people feel welcome, where they feel at home. We can't expect young people to attend youth group when their parents don't have any connection to their parishes beyond Sunday Mass.
How about Catholic school teachers? I think - it means teachers have to teach a faith that they live, and seek out the answers to the questions that they themselves have struggled with. There are a lot of positive steps already being made on this one right now, by the way.
How about youth ministers? I think - they have to know enough theology that they can introduce our youth to God, so that as they get their youth to sing out, "Our God is an awesome God!" the young people will know who that God is, and know why he's awesome. It's also about teaching youth that God is with them, whether they "feel" God with them or not.
How about the youth themselves? Well, they recognize that there are problems in the Church, and they're right. But they have two choices. One is to bail out. The other is to get involved, pull up their sleeves, and become part of the solution. After all, they're the Church too. And this one I don't just think, I know, because I'm one of them.
Everything in our Church is relevant. Our job - our mission - is to discover how, and make sure that everyone knows how. That's what God says, when he tells us that God is love.
Rev. Michael Mireau
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