Youth ministry: the basics

Last Friday night was a night of contrast and comparison. On the one hand, in the old school adjacent to the church, the Hamilton Catholic Youth Group held its Christmas breakup, which included a dance party:

The girls tended to favour this. The boys spent more time playing corridor cricket!
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The girls favoured this. The boys preferred corridor cricket!

Meanwhile, in the church hall, the Southern Grampians Old Time Dancers held their own Christmas breakup:

The juxtaposition of these events reminded me of an excellent article I came across last month. It contrasts the good ole days — “back when Wally Cleaver was wearing a jacket and tie to join other boys and girls at a party, for playing records and eating ice cream and dancing” — with the present day: “the epileptic jerks of disconnected ‘partners’ on a strobe-lit stage, all conversation made impossible by noise from hell.”

But the article is not as pessimistic as you might think. In fact, it’s a constructive analysis of the deficiencies of contemporary culture and what we can do about it.

Where are all the Catholic Youth Organizations?  They used to sponsor basketball games, for both the players and the people who’d be in the stands cheering them.  Where are the socials?  Where are the bowling nights, the picnics?  Where can our young people go to have innocent fun, not just alongside the other sex, but specifically for mingling with them, meeting them, flirting with them, searching for one of them to love?  Where are we nudging them gently along toward marriage and the sweetness of that life?

These are not extras.  They are of the essence.  I’m deeply interested in theology, but most people aren’t.  The “theology” they drink in comes from Mass, from prayer, and from—note this well!—the natural life of people in the Church . . .

. . Not everybody can speak learnedly about church architecture.  Not everybody wants to hear about that.  Not everybody can speak learnedly about grace and free will.  Not everybody wants to hear about that.  But everybody can learn to sing, everybody can learn to dance, everybody can watch a good movie, everybody likes a picnic, or a hike, or a trip to the beach, or a goofy time at the bowling alley, or a softball game, or an ice cream social, or coffee and tea and doughnuts.

Read it all: Catholics, Awake! Marriage Doesn’t Just Happen!

  • Florence

    Fr John, I have heard the saying ‘Marriages are made in Heaven.’ Yes, I do agree with you. Society, must turn back and do the simple things that people used to do. Society is now very busy working, working and working 24 x 7. Making money is not everything in this world. We must make time for recreation and for getting together and doing the simple things in life. God dwells in the simple things of life, so when we do simple things, we are inviting God to live with us.

    • Anne

      Florence I fear that we have let the genie out of the box and she wont go back into it. In one of those current affairs programmes the other night the question was asked have th young lost their manners? and why? I would say the answer is yes and because parents arent there to teach them on a daily basis those “divine manners” which serve us both here and for eternity. A child these days is born and immediately into daycare so that mum can go to work. In day care that is all that happens: day cared. the finerys of life are not taught by transient carers. From dayare to pre primary and pre primary to school . The formative years which should have been negotiated slowly with manners, boundaries, bonding etc are not happening with parents because parents for whatever their reaon are away. When finally a child grows into teenager and does not quite behave as expected the questions is “why we gave him/her everything” Yes everything but your time an your “voice of authority” for anchoring.
      It woul be marvellous to see young enjoying innocent youth, with laughter, dancing, and no energy drinks mixed with vodka, and then sex, but we adults have led to this by not putting children first.
      Will we ever go bak to that…I woul like to think so…..but I dont think so.

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