Despite the crisis the Catholic Church is currently going through, young Catholics are still showing an enormous hunger for God and a love for their faith, says Fr Ken Barker mgl, founder of the Missionaries of God’s Love.
Fr Barker spoke to The Catholic Weekly following a week-long evangelisation Summer School for young Catholics run by the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community.
Over 200 young people attended the School from 6 to 13 January at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst. It was one of the largest attendances at the annual event.
“At a time when the Church is in crisis, you’d think that young people might be just sort of staying away,” said Fr Barker, Director of the Summer School.
“What’s amazing is the young people are showing such openness and eagerness and such a hunger for God. They don’t seem to be phased by the fact the Church is going through this big crisis at the moment.”
“If you go by what the media has been saying well we wouldn’t have any young people there.”
“But it seems as if the Holy Spirit is showing his hand at a time when it seemed maybe the game was up. The Spirit moves again in a fresh and new way in the Church, because it’s His Church.
The week consisted of lectures and seminars—focused on formation and evangelisation—as well as praise and worship sessions, daily Mass and Eucharist Adoration and opportunities to share and receive mentoring.
The School is held in several locations around Australia each year and always draws large numbers of young people.
Fr Barker said he was particularly struck this year by the desire the young people showed to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. Tuesday night was “Reconciliation Night” and ten priests were flat-out for the entire evening hearing confessions, he said.
“We had priests come in but we couldn’t get through them all because there were so many young people, so we were hearing confessions every night.”
“Young people love to come and just open the door up and just pour out their hearts… It gives them an opportunity to bare their soul in terms of things they may have fallen into.”
The theme for this year’s Summer School was “Yes Lord, your will be done,” referring to Mary’s acceptance of God’s will at the Annunciation. The theme ties in with that of World Youth Day in Panama.
Eighteen year-old Mirella Cassis from St Declan’s Parish in Penshurst said the Summer School was a unique opportunity to receive formation in her faith.
“The week was dedicated to connecting with God through very personal and beautiful encounters with the Holy Spirit and really embracing the fact that in our human brokenness, God wants to love us.”
“We don’t have to be perfect in order for Him to work in our lives. The night sessions that included praise and worship music and prayer teams were the highlights of my week as they allowed me to receive God’s love and grace in new and profound ways.”
“The people who attend Summer School are extremely supportive and encouraging and are definitely a testament to my growth in faith.”