ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
A group of 13 youth and young adults referred to as ‘The Taskforce’ met June 29 at the Roman Catholic Pastoral Centre to focus on the Mission Congress document Baptised and Sent and the importance of having a more mission-oriented Church in the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) ahead of the September 17–22 congress.
A look at the ways in which the Church evangelises in present day was also discussed and participants were challenged to conduct discussions as objectively and as “intrusively” as possible.
“The taskforce is really that,” said Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) Director for the Diocese of Kingstown, Yohance Patrick Gibson. He told Catholic News that the group is charged with interacting with the parishes and community groups to ensure that they have the different concerns/ideas raised for the upcoming congress.
“We selected the young people because we wanted them to become intimately involved with the information and to help us to canvas the views of the people (active and inactive Catholics) throughout the Diocese. We hope by being so involved, they would be able to see how they can fit themselves into the life of the Church here in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gibson explained.
The group, which was facilitated by members of the planning committee, had been meeting since early June to examine the document and reflect on the questions therein.
Gibson said that the Diocesan Youth Commission assisted the planning committee by coming up with the names of young people between the ages of 14–22 years who exhibited a “fair amount” of leadership skills observed during recent retreats/ events held around the Diocese in the last two years.
It was not the first gathering, Gibson said, as the Diocese has hosted four other sessions on the congress documents before the training session. They included sessions with clergy, heads of different commissions and two planning committee meetings.
Gibson said that during the meeting, the committee was able to capture the young people’s opinions and give them tips on how to guide the discussions which they will have in their parishes and church groups.
He shared that by and large, the young people did not feel that the Church was catering for their needs and felt that when it was, the modality used was “antiquated at best”.
“They are of the opinion that the Church needs to rethink/rework its methods. During their presentations, it was also difficult to control the responses of the adults present, who sought to challenge the young people or correct them for not having a particular view.”
“I suspect that this would be a major issue in our Diocese. Unfortunately, it represents a divide between the young people and the adults,” he said.
Gibson mentioned that the Diocese is made up of several islands and thus far, the committee has tackled the mainland of St Vincent and the youth who attended represented all of the parishes there. They are likely to run another training session in the Grenadines soon or send a team there from those trained (which ever is more economically feasible).
Commenting on how soon the four groups will begin discussions with a wider Church community, Gibson anticipated as soon as this weekend [July 20, 21]. He mentioned that the team leaders and their teams were looking at the demographics of the various parishes to determine the best line of “attack”.
“Some Church communities are smaller and therefore a whole Church analysis could be utilised, whereas some communities are bigger and therefore the taskforce members may have to have several sit-down sessions with different groups/Ministries in the Church in order to capture that parish’s feedback.”
All in all, Gibson said all the young people who attended the session were “exceptional”.
He said it was an interesting time of reflection and those present who were older learnt “a thing or two” about how youth and young adults perceived the Church and its mission zeal. —KJ