This article was written by Frank Hall, Principle of Santa Clara Primary School in Bentley and one of the attendees of the recent Jumpstart retreat that was run by Youth of St. Clara Parish in Bentley
On the weekend I was honoured to be allowed to go on the Parish Youth Retreat. In part it was for a selfish reason, I was ready to go on a retreat anyway. I had been planning to take time with God over the recent holidays.
We left from the Santa Clara Parish Church on Friday night before tea with almost 30 of our Church’s future, due to return around 4:00pm Sunday. When we talk here of youth we are talking of university students, some returning to uni to complete their masters, some starting out and many others already in the workforce. When we talk of the ageing demographics of the Church these people are our youth. In fact at times in some of the Parishes I have felt I could have the youth tag.
What struck me strongly was that I am part of a living faith community, not a dying one. I, too, have been drawn in the past to comment on the changing demographic of church attendees. While I, like so many of my era, are willing to give time for my faith on weekends by going to Mass, I know that I would not be willing to give up my entire weekend especially at that time of my life.
As part of our Church we need to support the youth of our Parish as they are a major part of our future and role models for your children. The Santa Clara Parish supported these young Christians by providing Fr Dennis for them over the weekend and the two parishioners who provided the food for them so they could concentrate more on God during this time. The Diocese provided help by supplying for the “Youth” a member of the Catholic Youth Ministry Perth. Ursula Frayne school provided the bus for the Camp.
The original committee that formed to organise the retreat named the retreat Jumpstart. An analogy was put to me that at times we need to Jumpstart our car from time to time as the battery goes flat. It is new life for the battery. The idea of Jumpstart is also very strong in that we can share our car battery to Jumpstart that of our friends’ and even those people in need who approach us in a carpark as they have left something go on too long in the battery’s life and they have weakened its inner cells.
When this unit of our church is strong we can hopefully use these people to relate to our children in the church to support parents as the first educators of their children’s faith.
We should be asking ourselves how we can support our Parishes in their endeavour to work with these ‘Youth’? What gifts do we have to offer, to bring to the table for this part of the Body of Christ to become stronger? It will need prayer, gifts of skills like providing the food, driving the bus, just being there to offer support, money or using your connections to supply the little extras to embed these communities as part of our parish, not separate to them. I have personally experienced the way they have reached out to me this weekend and I would like to think the parish and schools will reach out to them for they are our future.
Finally, I would like to share with you the words of a hymn the ‘youth’ sung, “My life is in you Lord, My strength is in you Lord, My hope is in you Lord.”