“I’m really keen on what you, the young people will tell me today. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Don’t be afraid.” These were the words of Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB to the young people at Veritas Youth Festival this afternoon during the very important discussion forum.
Karl Brown from Ignite Perth and Bronia Karniewicz from the Respect Life office conducted the forum with over 180 young people who were split up to smaller discussion groups.
Both the MC’s presented the forum as a platform for young people to finally get a chance to speak up, give feedback and express their thoughts to the Church and in front of the Archbishop.
The Archbishop proposed two questions for the participants to respond to. Each groups were given 10-15 minutes to discuss the questions and then feed back to the larger group with one or two of their key points.
The first question His Grace proposed to the young people to give feedback to was “Why many young people don’t want to go to Church?”
While the groups gave many relevant and significant feedbacks there were obvious and common issues brought up by the majority. Firstly, the lack of understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church about the Mass was a main point, and secondly young people felt they were not welcomed and heard by the community in general.
Persia Walker from Whitfords Parish said, “There is a lack of understanding of the mass and its full importance.” She continues, “Young people sometimes just cannot connect with the liturgy.”
Paul Crossley from 24/7 Youth Ministry also said, “Some parishioners aren’t very welcoming and not open to engaging with the young people at all.”
The second question that the Archbishop posed were more related to the theme of the festival, which is on ‘mercy’. He asked the attendees to answer with sincerity the question of ‘How can the Church be merciful today?’
The feedback of the young people were more diverse than the first question but all stemmed into one obvious theme which is ‘love’.
The youth of Perth felt that for the Church to show mercy to others the people have to be more loving and accepting, but without compromising the teaching and beliefs of the Catholic Church.
Syona Fernandez from Spearwood Parish said, “Mercy intrinsically is bound to love. We as the Church need to present the real truth while strongly holding on to the values and ideals nof of the Church.
Archbishop Costelloe SDB responded to their feedbacks with firstly challenging the audience with a task of identifying strategies to get the youth back to the Church.
He also said, “The fundamental thing I heard is that many of us do not understand what the mass is all about. Sometimes we think it’s about us, but it’s about God.”
In response to the comments of the young people about the topic of mercy, His Grace said, “We need to accept responsibility and to do something ourselves. We need to ask ourselves, what can I do to begin a change? It’s all of us together who are responsible for the Church.”
He concludes with a Gospel story when Jesus spoke to a woman about adultery. At the end of the encounter Jesus says two things; “I don’t condemn you” and “Go don’t sin again”.
He then posed a final question to the audience, “Do you as the Church say both and mean both?”
The discussion forum with the Archbishop was a real treat for many. For some, this was their first time to engage with their Archbishop and it was one they will never forget for a long time, and it was at Veritas Youth Festival.