A promising future for youth ministry in Ireland

A promising future for youth ministry in Ireland From left to right: Gerard Hanley, Bishop Fintan Gavin, Miriam Goulding and Fr Stephen Wang

The success of the first ‘Intentional Young Adult Ministry’ gathering, that took place on June 22 in Co. Kildare, shows a promising future for youth ministry in Ireland, as young adults continue to inspire and support one another in their faith journeys. This initiative, hosted by the Irish Episcopal Conference (IEC), reflects a hopeful and inclusive vision for the Church, where young people play a key role in shaping its future.

Over 160 young adults from across Ireland gathered to represent the different movements and initiatives happening in the Irish Church. The day began with an inspiring opening address by Bishop Fintan Gavin of Cork and Ross, setting a hopeful tone for the event. Following Bishop Gavin’s address, attendants heard testimonies from youth leaders representing various groups, including Focus Missionaries, Sycamore, and Alpha.


Fr Stephen Wang shared his ideas and insights during a Question-and-Answer session, where he talked about the importance of genuine interactions. “Enjoy. Love them and enjoy your conversation,” Fr Wang said. “It’s about you as a friend and as a brother and sister listening and talking to someone. If they’re a bit fragile, be very sympathetic. Having a real relationship allows them to be themselves. If they get angry or cynical, love them like any friend.”

Fr Wang also mentioned the value of diversity within the Church. “We should really love and respect the differences and the charisms,” he said. “It’s great that the Church has lots of different groups doing lots of different things, many of them almost independently. We believe in subsidiarity, which is the importance of the local and the fact that the local can respond to differences. We must not become monochrome. We’re here to learn from each other, but not to do the same.”

Sarah T, a youth leader representative from the Cork and Ross diocese, in conversation with The Irish Catholic said that “There was a beautiful start with the praise and worship music. It really set the tone and kind of inspired the Holy Spirit and reminded us that we’re here because of Him, not because of ourselves. It was brilliant to hear of the different initiatives. Each with their own unique approach and it just shows, as Fr Stephen was mentioning, how we use our own charisms and see what you can bring to the table.”

When we work together intentionally, respectfully, and listen to one another, we can really build something great for our future”

The day was filled with discussions and sharing of personal experiences, highlighting the diverse ways young people can engage with and spread their faith. A key theme was the importance of authenticity and joy in evangelisation. Sarah P. shared her realisation that the most sustainable way to evangelise is by sharing one’s joy. “You don’t necessarily have to tell people they have to believe,” she said. “You just let them see the joy your faith gives you and be an example for others.”

Bishop Gavin emphasised the idea of collaboration and mutual respect. “We aren’t selling one particular movement over another but showing what’s possible and encouraging. When we work together intentionally, respectfully, and listen to one another, we can really build something great for our future,” he said.

The gathering concluded with a renewed sense of mission among the participants, united by their common goal of evangelising. The event highlighted the importance of embracing diverse approaches and the power of authentic, joyful witness in evangelisation.