Jammin’ to some emmanuelworship

by Sophie McNaught

Sophie McNaught is a gap year youth minister at her local parish, St Joseph’s Nambour. She helps run the youth group, Impact Youth, which she attended for 5 years before coming into her role. Sophie’s favourite thing about youth ministry is getting to know the young people and seeing them grow and become more open to bring Jesus into their lives.


Pictured: Sophie McNaught

In April 2018, people from all across the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane converged upon St John’s College, Nambour to experience a youth rally I helped run called Activating Joy. The night started off with DJ Raf hitting the discs, followed by emmanuelworship and finally a talk from Fr Rob Galea. Fr Rob talked about how although we are imperfect, we can find joy in God. He mentioned a story about how much he loves chocolate cake and how one time he ate too much which made him unable to go to the gym, something else he loves to do. After three days one of his friends picked him up and took him to the gym and got him back into his usual routine. Without his friend, he would not have gotten back on the saddle so quickly.

Friends are such an important part of our journey with Christ. God puts these people in our lives for a reason; to help us not stray from the path God has for us, or to show us new things, or even to teach us lessons. But whatever the reason our friends are in our lives they are there on God’s account. This reminded me that I should treasure my time with my friends and family.

I am so glad I got to be a part of Activating Joy. This event was the first charismatic faith experience for some of the young people and it was such a privilege to see their faces light up when Fr Rob was singing God Will Reign or when the DJ Raf copied the dance moves of one of the participants or when emmanuelworship were playing one of their songs from their new album, Ventus.

Getting excited for Fr Rob Galea

 

 

 

by Erika Dulay

Erika is a young parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes, Sunnybank.


The Year of Youth, for me, began with a lot of uncertainty. As a young adult being brought up in a Catholic family, I began the year questioning whether my faith was really my own. It had become apparent that attending and being involved in our local parish felt more like a habitual routine rather than a personal spiritual choice. And for a reason unbeknownst to me at the time, I had also recently decided to become more involved in youth ministry by becoming a youth leader at our parish, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Sunnybank. In this new role, I found myself feeling ill-prepared to support other young members of my community in their journey of faith, when I felt that I had yet to begin my own. I felt compelled to delve deeper in my search for answers and I decided to attend the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF), held in Sydney that year.

Pictured left: Erika Dulay

ACYF was nothing like I expected it to be. Seeing over 15,000 youth and young adults actively in search for truth and on individual journeys of faith, was truly an awe-inspiring experience. It gave me the opportunity to meet other young adults that were also in search for what their faith meant to them and made me realise that I was not alone in the questions that I had about my faith. The theme of “open[ing] new horizons for spreading joy; joy that is born of God’s love” empowered the youth to think about how their faith can positively impact not only their own lives, but also the lives of many others. This event was a powerful display of God’s work in the lives of many and reminded me of just how blessed I am in so many facets of my life. The acts of collective prayer, reflection, dance, song and silence made me realise that I may never have all the answers, but that is, in essence, what faith is all about; faith despite the uncertainty. There are so many blessings this experience has given me, but in the words of Steve Angrisano during the closing plenary of ACYF, I am reminded that “it will never matter that you came here, and it will never matter where you go, as close as your breath is to you, God is to you always”.  With this closing thought, although I cannot begin to fathom what the rest of the journey will bring, I can trust that I won’t ever have to do it alone.

Year of Youth Launch Mass Youth of Ipswich parish receiving a blessing from Fr Stephen Bliss, Parish Priest

by Felicity Jones

Since 2016, Felicity Jones has been the Youth Coordinator for The Hive Youth & Young Adults Ministry within the Ipswich Parish, planning and preparing their youth group nights and events for the high schoolers in their community. She has been a part of the Ipswich Catholic Community since commencing her secondary education in one of the parish schools in 2011. Felicity is so grateful to journey alongside the young people of the parish, as together they grow closer to God and to each other. Her favourite thing about youth ministry is its ability to reach out to young people of all backgrounds and upbringings, as we all come together for one purpose – to know God.


Felicity Jones (centre), Amy MacDonald (left) from young adults, and her younger sister, Anna MacDonald (right) who is part of our youth group

I am thrilled to be the high school youth coordinator of The Hive Youth & Young Adults Ministry for St Mary’s Parish, Ipswich. The Hive has been running in the parish since 2015, where I was first a participant before joining the leadership team in 2016.

Fr Nicholas Okafor (previous Associate Pastor), with Hive Leaders Georgina Rudken and John Osborne

The Hive has grown so much over these past few years, and it is incredible seeing how much can happen in just 365 days. When Pope Francis announced 2018 as the Year of Youth, we were super excited for all the possibilities that lay ahead of us for this special year.

One of the biggest things we were excited about was the involvement of our wonderful community. We wanted to see the young people of the Ipswich Catholic Community participating at Masses, community events, and fundraisers. We wanted to connect with all of the loving parishioners who had supported us so much over the years.

It began at the event that kicked off our year – our Year of Youth Launch. The lead up to the event had gone super smoothly. Everything was set up perfectly and St Mary’s Church was full of beaming faces.

Suddenly, the loudest, scariest crack of thunder sounded above us. The wind outside was blowing like crazy. It was almost as if the church was shaking!

Special parish Year of Youth celebration cake

My stomach completely dropped as I thought of the community BBQ we had planned after Mass. What could we do?

Our Parish Priest, Fr Stephen Bliss, calmly said that everything would work itself out. We had parents and parishioners alike running around outside in the wind moving the BBQ and all its supplies undercover. The sense of community was so empowering.

The Mass was beautiful, and the BBQ that followed was a huge success. It would not have been possible without the kindness of the Ipswich community. We are extremely lucky to be part of something so special, and hope to continue building connections throughout the rest of the Year of Youth and beyond.

Year of Youth Launch Mass Youth of Ipswich parish receiving a blessing from Fr Stephen Bliss, Parish Priest

 

My Dear Young People,

I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.

I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart

I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.

When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?

But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).

I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness.

 

This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.

In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, […], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).

Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up

A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master.

The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).

Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).

With paternal affection,

FRANCIS

Given at the Vatican, 13 January 2017

Reposted from the Vatican website

Lots of different images come to my mind when I think of the word ‘home’.

First, the house where I live with my parents in the Northern Suburbs of Brisbane. The sloped driveway, incessant plover birds, our dog Chief barking at 5 in the morning and the smell of freshly cut grass in the summer. I then think of our old house in Western Australia. That still feels like home in an odd way – I can still close my eyes and mentally walk the streets of the entire suburb of Waikiki, where I grew up five minutes from the beach.

I also think of my fiancé, Katelyn, and our nearly realized dreams of having our own physical space all to ourselves, together at last! That would surely feel like home, a new and exciting home as husband and wife.

Finally, I think of my Church. I think of my local parish on a Sunday morning, alive with the familiar face of community. Coffee cups tinkling, Fathers old jokes that only half make sense. The smell of snags on the BBQ, a simple affair raising some money for the youth group, or an upcoming mission trip or the local Vinnies conference.

I think of my office in that same Parish, where I work. The ladies from the front desk always offering me a cup of tea or coffee even though I’ve never said yes. Children tapping on the window asking for lollies with big eyes.

For me the notion of home calls up all these images and places. What feels like home to you? Maybe it’s a certain place, a familiar smell. Just a ‘feeling’ you get.

If you had told me just a few years ago that I would find a home in the Catholic Church, I may have laughed at you! Me, finding a home in organised religion?

 

You will know they are Christian by their love

How did this happen? Great question! The easiest and most honest answer to this question is: people.

In my younger rebellious days (I’m still rebellious I promise) the people around me heavily influenced the choices I made. In some cases, this led me down some dark paths, and the wounds of those choices are still healing today. My biggest fear was that I would not have a home. That I would not have people, a place, or something identifiable, to truly belong to.

When I moved across the country from Perth to Brisbane, that need intensified. This new place was definitely not home. The same pattern emerged – the people around me heavily influenced the choices I made because I wanted to feel at home, no matter the choices I made, unhealthy or not.

The deep desire underneath the unhealthy choices I made was not bad – all of us want a place to belong, a place to feel like home. Even if you are the type of person who can’t live in one place for more than five minutes, there surely is a place where your heart and soul comes to rest, like a piano resolving the chord. My heart was stuck on a discord, trying desperately to resolve, to find peace and rest.

 

My girlfriend, whom was quite open and strong in her Christian faith, invited me along to a few events.

 

It was there I encountered people of faith. People, who were confident in themselves but accepted me where I was in life. People who never shied away from drawing out the best in me, through their example, their encouragement, and their honesty.

The Church is, after all, made up of people. As I became more involved in the young community of awesome faith leaders mixed in with people my own age, experiencing life in similar ways to me, I slowly began to feel that odd, familiar feeling that happens when you just know that this is where your heart belongs.

I started to feel like I had a home in the Catholic Church.

 

Home is where God’s heart is

Ultimately, it was through the people I encountered, the very Church itself, that I developed a personal relationship with God. This is Gods heart – to be in relationship with us. And if the Church is the people, then Gods home is with His Church – in the hearts of His people.

In the home I have found in the Church, I am fed and nourished by the Eucharist. Jesus is waiting for me all the time in that special room of Gods house. In this home my faults and failings don’t define me, and they aren’t swept under the rug either. At any time I can go to a priest and directly, humanly experience divine mercy and forgiveness. In this home I am surrounded by a community of friends and family who support, encourage and challenge me, who ultimately want the best for me, and who are on their own faith journey alongside me. We grow in this home together, in Gods heart as a family.

Often-times I get angry at this new home of mine, at how it is run in certain areas. Or I might fight or argue with Brothers and Sisters living under the same roof. Or (and this is both a metaphor and a habit) I might leave the house entirely and come back quietly at some early hour of the morning. Whatever the case may be, I know that my heart still rests with God, and that my home will always be with His people, the Church.

My encouragement for anybody new to the faith, unsure about the Church, or even considering what have a relationship with God looks like – get to know the people. Millions of people living and billions of people past have found a home in the Church. God finds His home in our hearts. Find your home in His heart – He resides in the hearts of His people, who are the Church. Knock anytime!

 

 

Matt Ross (2)

 

Matt Ross is the Youth coordinator at All Saints Parish Albany Creek. He also works as a presenter for Real Talk Australia, and is currently studying a bachelor of secondary education at Australian Catholic University. Matt is looking forward to getting married to his Fiance’ Katelyn in December this year. 

The views expressed in the Catholic Collective blog do not necessarily represent the views of the Youth Evangelisation Office or the Archdiocese of Brisbane

Picture this: It’s a 2015 Deanery Youth Trivia night and I’m sitting at a table with Steph, the Darra-Jindalee Youth Coordinator, her husband and a few friends. We are all laughing and getting into the spirit of the night, enjoying the games and doing our best to mime a New Testament story (about a sheep I think) when Steph turns to me and says: “Hey Francis, would you be interested in coming along to Life Teen?” While I was quick to say “yeah sure!”, it wasn’t until this years Life Teen camp that I realised just how much being a Core Crew leader means to me.

I often find myself looking forward to Life Teen camp. You would have to call it the ultimate Life Teen experience particularly this years, as the theme was “I Dare You To Move”, answering Pope Francis’ challenge to not be boring couch potatoes, but to make our mark on the world. This year I spoke about St Paul starting from his past as the feared and Christian-hating Saul of Taursus to his conversion to become Paul.

St Paul answered the call to get off the couch after acknowledging his sins and seeking forgiveness before going on to convert the masses to Jesus Christ and spread the Good News. Although his initial conversion was an extreme one, St Paul is known to have experienced conversion daily, acknowledging his sinful ways often in his numerous letters and willing others to do the same.

His life is an amazing example of faith and how we, too, should seek to experience conversion daily by acknowledging our sins and seeking forgiveness through reconciliation.
Researching my talk gave me a chance to reflect on my Life Teen experiences so far. Why was I so quick to say “yes” to become a Core Crew leader?

Darra-Jindalee Life Teen brings our young people together and inspires them to become the next generation of fire-starters, filled with the Holy Spirit to champion the word of God to those around them through faith and love.

It provides a safe and joyful place for young people to speak openly about their faith and life experiences; and teach them what we, as Catholics, believe. This makes being a Core Crew leader worthwhile but actually, it’s not why I said “yes” during trivia to a Youth Coordinator I hardly knew.

As a young kid, my heroes were always the ones on T.V. fighting bad guys and saving the day. While I looked up to my parents, I never had someone personable to look up to, as a scared and awkward teenage boy, who was trying to live out his life in a society that rejects the idea of a loving God. So after falling on hard times myself and getting through it, I made a promise to myself that if I could be of help: I would work with young people and help them on their faith journey. Clearly God heard me make that promise to myself and promptly provided me with an opportunity to make good on it.

As it turns out saying “yes” to being a Core Crew leader was actually me saying “yes” to God just like St. Paul did on the road to Damascus.

I almost saw Life Teen as an opportunity to meet my younger self through other young people facing similar social and personal pressures, and reassure them not to be afraid, because Jesus is always with you.

As a leader on the recent camp I realized something that I wasn’t quite prepared for: While I had planned to lead the young people closer to Christ, it was they who are helping me get there too. There are some spectacular young people out there! It was quite special for example to listen to Alex, a Year 11 student, give witness to how his faith remains strong even as others judge him, and to read Nick’s blog post, about how much this years camp and the friendships he’s made through Life Teen means to him. What was truly a marvel to me was seeing how young people like Alex and Nick can display such maturity beyond their years to challenge me not to be afraid of proclaiming my faith.

It has been a real honour working with the Life Teen Core Crew and building great friendships with these young people. You can be certain that the Catholic Church is in safe hands when it is finally their turn to lead and light up the world.

Headshot

Francis Hoang is a member of the Darra Jindalee Life Teen core crew. This blog post was syndicated from the Darra Jindalee Life Teen blog. Click here to go to the original blog post.

My friends all know that I can be a bit of a neat freak, organised, task oriented kind of person, so when I saw the title of Chapter 4 of Divine Renovation, I must admit I couldn’t wait to read it. “Cleaning out the junk” has my name written all over it.

On weekends, my husband and I will often watch TV (ok so we may or may not be known for binge watching Netflix). But even as we binge watch TV, I can’t just sit there. I have to bring a drawer out of the bathroom and start clearing out the junk or be folding washing or dusting our living area. There is a sense of accomplishment, a sense of clearing out the unnecessary, starting again.

I loved this chapter because for me it felt like spring cleaning the Church I love.

Time and time again, Fr Mallon uncovers problems within our Church and names them – not in a way that puts down the Church, but rather in a hope-filled way that names a problem so that we can start to deal with it. Fr Mallon doesn’t call them problems, but rather temptations and draws pretty heavily on Pope Francis’ teachings.

These temptations include things such as sociological reductionism, psychologising, Gnosticism, Pelagianism, Jansenism, clericalism, functionalism or even (get this) “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism”.

Ok so I realise that if you haven’t studied theology (formally or informally), these may be foreign concepts to you, but Fr Mallon does a wonderful job of explaining them.

This was the chapter that hooked me in to keep reading this book. I had so many moments of revelation where jumbled ponderings in the back of my mind finally came to the forefront because I felt like someone had articulated some of my greatest concerns about the Church and then said “it’s gonna be ok.”

There’s nothing like a good spring cleaning… for our house, for our minds or for our Church.

And as a Church we need it, because like Fr Mallon says, “Only a Church filled with an army of missionary disciples can change the world.”

 

Contact page Teresa MCGrath

Teresa McGrath is the Youth Project Consultant for the Archdiocese of Brisbane, and heads up the Youth Evangelisation Office.

Have you ever called a friend at like 8:30 on a weeknight, asking them to hang out and they give you this umm’ing and ahh’ing response? ‘I’ve got work in the morning dude, I don’t want a late night’, ’I’ve got an assignment due next week’, ‘I just found out Lost is on Netflix and I’m not leaving the house for 3 days.’

You know what I’m talking about – you could tell them how it wouldn’t kill them to come hang for a few hours, how it would be fun, how they could be home by a reasonable time, how they have plenty of time to write that reflection for uni – but it would sound rude so you don’t say anything. You could probably convince them, but there’s something off about having to persuade a friend to hang out with you.

And yet, there’s definitely been a time in all of our lives when we’ve been on the other end of that phone call. We’ve been the people who can see the value in saying yes – but we can’t get past that blockage. It might feel like too much effort, that we’re ‘tired’, we have stuff to do, or that we’ve been really busy lately and just need to put our feet up.

There is this time when Jesus is walking on the road to Jerusalem and He is speaking to the people around him:

Jesus told someone else to come with him. But the man said, “Lord, let me wait until I bury my father.” Jesus answered, “Let the dead take care of the dead, while you go and tell about God’s kingdom.” Then someone said to Jesus, “I want to go with you, Lord, but first let me go back and take care of things at home.” Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom!” Luke 9:59-62

I can imagine Jesus being frustrated in this story, in the same way we might be frustrated by that friend who flakes a little too often. He knows they want to follow Him, but they limit themselves with small-minded worries. I like to think Jesus would be the guy on the phone to his friend saying, ‘Really? You’ll be fine, just come and hang.’

The best reply they can offer is ‘Yes! But…’ 

Jesus is inviting them on this incredible journey, one that they know they deeply desire – and yet some part of them blocks that immediate and total ‘yes’. In one sense their excuses aren’t shallow, they’re desiring to respect their families. On the other hand though, the gravity of being personally invited by Jesus to follow Him is being blocked by worldly limitations. The best reply they can offer is ‘Yes! But…’

The person in this story who wants to go “take care of things at home” instead of following Jesus immediately acknowledges how much they would like to follow Him. Their internal desire is to say yes, but it’s blocked by a false limitation they have set up for themselves.

This inside desire, of following Jesus in a radically risky way can so often for us be blocked by similar limitations. We can feel called by God to serve and grow in a particular way, yet we let tiredness, busyness or laziness creep in and shut it down.

Jesus desires that your inside desire, your natural disposition – come out and be made alive in your life. That the call to follow Him be responded to with an immediate and enthusiastic ‘yes’ – not despite but because you are busy, tired or stressed.

Whether that call for you is to follow Jesus through serving others, through a stronger prayer life or through seeking the sacraments – we are called to take a little risk, lose a little sleep and fight a little harder to bring those deep yearning desires from the inside out.

 

**This article originally appeared on Ignite Youth’s article page found here http://igniteyouth.com/articles.

 

Liam

Liam works for Ignite Youth where he uses his many

talents including graphic design and working with

young people. He is also a gifted musician and plays

drums for Emmanuel Worship. 

Victory! My team just finished an Amazing Race through the beautiful Mt Coo-tha Botanical Gardens. With my competitive spirit and love for the outdoors there are not many other ways I would rather spend my Saturday afternoon. Pleased and exhausted, I lay down in the sun to pray, and memories of all the previous times I had come to this place began to flood my mind. Over the past 18 months I must have come here on at least five separate occasions.

During this time I have transformed and matured significantly, however, there is one thing about me that has been the same throughout: I realised that despite appearing composed, calm and joyful to my friends and family who have accompanied me on these days, on the inside my brain has been in a different place. On each of these days I have felt like a ‘mess,’ worried, challenged and confronted about one thing or the other. I offered this moment; these memories and thoughts, up to God. Why am I always worried about something? Why can’t I just be happy with where I am? Why am I ALWAYS a mess?

As the ‘mess’ ran rings around and around in my mind, I remembered the same word being used in a different light. I remembered Pope Francis telling us to make a mess, that God wants us to make a mess;

“Make a mess, but then also help to tidy it up. A mess which gives us a free heart, a mess which gives us solidarity, a mess which gives us hope.”

God doesn’t want me to settle or to be complacent with where I am or what society tells me. God calls me to ‘mess up’ the realities I face every day in myself and in our world. As a wise friend of mine said, God expects us to ‘transcend societal expectations.’ We cannot be satisfied, or just accept what the world presents to us. We need to make a difference, to be the face of change in our world.

And that starts in our minds.

In that moment of prayer I realised that this mess is exactly where God wants me to be. In fact, if I wasn’t a mess, if I was completely happy with where I was, if I was not feeling challenged or scared or out of my comfort zone, I would be ignoring His call in my life.

Lord I pray that I will never cease to make a mess, that I will continually seek your plan for my life. Give me the courage, the wisdom & the strength to step out of my comfort zone and be an illustration of St. Catherine of Siena’s teaching that; if I am who God calls me to be, I will set the world on fire.

The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.” Evangelii Gaudium 10

 

**This reflection originally appeared on UQ Chaplaincy’s reflections page found here www.uqcatholicchaplaincy.com/reflections**

download (1)
This reflection was written by Karen,

who likes carrots and ice-cream, but not at the same time.

She was recently converted to the fine art of napping,

and will take any opportunity she gets to curl up on a comfy couch.

I hate going to the doctor!

 

funny-doctor-appointment

Going to the doctor means that I have to admit that there is a problem.  8 years ago I fell off a horse and broke my wrist. I have since learnt that your wrist is made up of 8 tiny bones. I broke one of those tiny bones called the scaphoid bone. Because it was only a small break in a small bone, I initially didn’t think that I had broken it. I just thought/hoped that it was probably a bad sprain. I spent the next 4 months living with the pain of a broken bone, hoping it would get better by itself…

It didn’t.

I finally went to the doctor, had an x-ray and found out the truth.

It was only when I was willing to admit that there might be something wrong and seek the right help that I was able to begin the journey towards healing.

Now, I know that many of you are probably out there thinking ‘what an idiot. Why didn’t he just go to the doctor?’ Well the answer was that I didn’t want to face the reality of the situation. A broken bone meant that I couldn’t work for a while, probably some time in a cast, possibly added expenses etc.

As I read chapter 3 of divine I couldn’t help but see the parallels between my broken wrist and the way Fr James writes about the need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge the pain that can often be present in the Church and its members.

Admitting there is a problem

This chapter is a raw and, at times, brutally honest look at some of the issues the Church is facing today; the pain of the sexual abuse scandals, the pain of seeing the Church in decline, the pain of unmet expectations of both priest and congregation and many other pains.

While reading I felt like I was getting an insight into the pain that is felt most particularly by our priests, the shepherds of our faith communities.

It was clear that the only way to move beyond this pain was to acknowledge it, to bring it into the light and to grieve it.

The brick wall

What struck me the most though was the pain that many priests feel after their ordination, when they enter into parish life. Fr James used the phrasing of flying 100 miles an hour into the “brick wall” of parish life.

It must be difficult for some of these men who have decided to give over their lives to serve the Church in this way, who have spent years studying, who come out of the seminary full of zeal, passion and fervour to then go into a parish setting where that passion and zeal and fervour may be seen as an unwanted intrusion into the status quo of the parish.

This challenge is animated by an anecdote in the book where Fr James is asking one of his parishioners to join an alpha group and the parishioner’s response is “Look Father, I am just not that religious”. If this is the message our priests are getting it is little wonder that their passion, zeal and fervour may wane over time.

It can certainly be a difficult thing to acknowledge and to talk about our pain. There are many reasons why it is just easier to go on as if there is nothing wrong, to simply limp through it. But as I discovered with my broken wrist, it is not until we name, acknowledge and grieve the pain and the loss that we suffer that the healing can actually begin.

 

We at the youth evangelisation office encourage you to join us in reading Divine Renovation.

Chapter 3 can be a bit of a hard read, but it is exciting to see what can happen in our faith communities when we have the courage to

ask some tough questions.

You can grab a copy from www.bookdepository.com/Divine>Renovation


Jeremy Grear

Jeremy is the parish support officer for youth ministry

in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. He is married and has

an 8 month old son. Jeremy is passionate about

promoting the dignity of the family and the human person.