Archbishop Jason Gordon met with youth and young adult stakeholders in March. Marisha Darneaud, former editor of Vision, Catholic News youth supplement attended and reports.
On Saturday, March 17 youth leaders and many representatives from various youth ministries assembled at the St Charles Borromeo Parish Hall, Tunapuna for a stakeholders’ meeting spearheaded by the Catholic Youth Commission.
The special guest speaker was Archbishop Jason Gordon who was celebrating his birthday that day. He was presented with a large birthday card (that everyone was asked to sign) and a Black Forest cake.
The meeting started promptly at 9 a.m. with a brief meditation on the day’s Gospel. Host parish priest, Fr Ian Taylor said an opening prayer and welcomed everyone.
Some of the groups represented included the UWI Catholic Students’ Movement, Altar Servers Ministry, CHOICE, Christ Our Redeemer (COR), CFC Youth for Christ and Singles for Christ, Jesus Explosion, Youth Prayer Festival (formerly Youth 2000), BOMA-TT, and Weey Movement from Tortuga Parish. Youth vicariate moderators were in attendance as well as CAMSEL (Catholic Media Services Ltd).
The meeting agenda included updates on ongoing projects, discuss upcoming youth events, concerns regarding youth ministry, and a way forward in terms of collaboration and solidarity.
Winston Garcia, Episcopal Delegate for Youth gave opening remarks. He thanked the archbishop for attending and Fr Taylor for accommodating the meeting. Garcia reiterated that the Youth Commission recognises three focal points when it comes to Youth Ministry: E – an Encounter with Christ, F – Formation and M – Mission.
He stressed the importance of these three points in all of the commission’s programmes, and issued an appeal to put youth/young adult ministry as a top priority in the archdiocese.
Archbishop Gordon thanked the Commission for inviting him to the forum and stated his happiness at being present for the meeting on his birthday. He said the poor and marginalised living on the fringes of society must be given first priority. He said that one of his major concerns was for the Church finding a way to reach millennials (18–35 year olds).
Attendees were urged to participate in their respective parish’s conversation on the five priority areas – Catholic Education, Parish Life, Vocations, Leadership, and Family Life and the Youth.
He reminded all that they need to understand the time in which they were born is different from this current era and adjustments must be made to communicate efficiently with the youth in this digital age marked by rapid change.
He continued that there is a commonly expressed sentiment, ‘We never did it this way before’. This, he remarked, had to stop as there must be a willingness to try new things and shift perceptions where the rapid changes in our world are not seen as obstacles.
Said the archbishop, “We need to change our thinking and find new ways of communicating and evangelising; we need to spread the faith to the millennials so that they in turn would teach the younger ones, and we would have Church members to perform different functions in years to come.”
Archbishop Gordon also challenged millennials to use their creative Catholic imagination in ways of evangelisation, and their giftedness to be a better version of themselves. He also encouraged all to invest time in human formation and to guard/protect the younger ones’ innocence as they are exposed to so many things that the older generation were not exposed to when they were younger.
Garcia then returned to highlight some of the upcoming events, inviting volunteers and participation:
Catholic Youth Expo: June 23, at the Centre of Excellence, Tunapuna
AEC Youth Assembly, July 10-–23, in Martinique
5th Shepherd’s Cup Football Tournament (venue to be announced) on August 25
4th annual Catholic Spoken Word competition in October (date to be announced)
World Youth Day Panama in January 2019
A short question-and-answer segment followed and the archbishop encouraged persons to email him or send their questions via the different forms of media so that he can answer via the Catholic News.