Pioneering study asks what young Catholics need from the Church

 NORTHAMPTON - first posted 12 December 2002 - 560 words

Pioneering study asks what young Catholics need from the Church

The 'Y Church' report - the new youth strategy for the RC Diocese of Northampton - provides not just a summary of what young people make of the Church and what they need, but outlines a strategic and practical approach to engaging young people with the Church in the future.

The research covers: postmodernism and youth culture; what it's like to be a young Catholic today; where the Church is today, and what it might look like in the future; and what current youth ministry is, both within and outside the diocese.

Of recommendations for the future, the most radical is to use a vacant presbytery in a town centre to house a local mission team combining both a team of young, talented people proclaiming the Gospel through peer ministry, with local relationships, sustained over time. This is different from other diocesan or national teams because the group would be rooted in their deanery. Other recommendations include: making Sunday liturgies more accessible to young people; planning sacramental preparation as part of an overall ministry, rather than as one-off events; training and supporting volunteers; and making sure that the groups offered by parishes appeal to teenagers.

"The report is inspiring and a highly valuable tool . . . Not only does it highlight good youth ministry, it challenges us all to get involved and share our lives with one another" said Helen Bardy, Director of Catholic Youth Services

Echoing this view, Paul Lever, SVP Youth Development Officer, said: "An excellent piece of research into the needs and interests of young Catholics today. Relevant not only to youth leaders in the Northampton diocese but to anybody involved in youth work throughout England and Wales"

"Anyone, who can so concisely convey such an accurate understanding of postmodernism and its implications for mission, has to be applauded. No other diocese need go to all this trouble, in a sense the work is done; this wheel has been invented," said Willie Slavin, Networking Magazine.

The report's foreword is written by Bishop Kevin McDonald, reflecting its formal acceptance by the diocese. which has committed itself to the first year's funding. It proved hugely popular at a youth ministry conference on 26th October which 160 people from around the diocese listened to a presentation of the report, going away with renewed enthusiasm.

A shortened version of the report - a workbook which enables parishes and schools to apply the findings to their own situation - is available from the newly launched website: which also contains lots of resources to help parishes with its implementation.

Avril Baigent, the Youth Ministry Project Officer, and author of the report, said: "The whole project has been so exciting. For so long we have been working in the dark, not really knowing why young people were missing from our congregations. Now we not only know why they're not there, we can begin to take steps to reverse this. All those who have persevered in their commitment to young people can pick this report up, and know that the action they take as a result will be targeted and effective. This stuff works!"

For more information, contact:

Avril Baigent, The Northampton Diocese Youth Project, 48 Church St, Chesham,
Bucks, HP5 1HY; tel: 01494 792 934; mobile: 07770 940 478; fax: 0871 699 001

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