Catholic Youth events cancelled for lack of interest

By  Samantha Hermack, Youth Speak News
  • April 3, 2009
Every year, my diocese hosts a weekend youth retreat for high school students. I started participating when I was in Grade 9 and always counted the days until the next one. It has been a wonderful experience and has helped me to grow dramatically faith-wise.

However, this year’s retreat was cancelled due to lack of registration. The diocese needed at least 25 youth for the retreat to take place; only six signed up. When I heard the news, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe so few people were interested. It certainly wasn’t for lack of quality or hard work by the diocese, so how could it happen?

After thinking about it for a few days, I realized maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised about the lack of participation. The area that I live in, as well as many other areas, doesn’t have very active Catholic youth. Because of this, attempted youth events such as the retreat are unable to flourish. It can be extremely frustrating for both the teenagers who want to expand their faith and for the adults who put the youth events together. So what are we doing wrong?

One of the most obvious answers is the lack of support for the youth ministries in New Brunswick. There is only one full-time Catholic youth minister in my diocese.

Youth ministers can spend many hours a day organizing youth groups, as it is their job, something that volunteers can’t do. But without monetary and spiritual support from their parishes, there will continue to be a lack of youth ministers, as even people who are passionate about youth need a decent salary to live on. 

I find that people are so used to being entertained by television, the Internet, etc., that they can have a hard time becoming hooked on other things like adoration and prayer, unless they are drawn in through other means. Churches need to use the media that youth find most entertaining to draw them in where they can hear the truth and develop a deeper appreciation for church teachings and their own faith. The world has changed swiftly since the current adult generation grew up, and the youth raised in this changing society naturally have different needs and interests. Media is extremely important in their lives and should be utilized in bringing them closer to God.

Movies, television, music and books are quite often religion-neutral, and some are openly against it. Christianity is just not looked on as “cool.” Much of the time, adults fail to make religion a priority as well, so between the influence of the culture and the role models it is little wonder when youth don’t see God as important.

I could be wrong on all points, but I do know this is a serious issue and should be addressed. Religion shouldn’t consist of being forced to go to Mass every Sunday.

God isn’t a shadowy figure that sits up in the clouds and judges us. We should be passionate about God and excited to learn about and experience Him… and sadly, that isn’t the popular viewpoint.

(Hermack, 17, is a home-schooled Grade 11 student in Grand-Bay Westfield, N.B.)

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