A year for being young, Irish and Catholic

Maura Garrihy looks at Youth Ministry in 2013

By our very nature we want to see results immediately. But what happens when we can’t see the fruit in a task that we are doing? Often we fail to see what God is doing through our efforts and we become disheartened. Recently I found myself struggling with this reality, but God was using this as an opportunity to learn and grow.

About two weeks after feeling disheartened I had a real revelation, given to me by the young people of Galway diocese who had participated in the Pope John Paul II Award. As they shared their experiences of being involved in their parishes and what a positive experience they had of being a young person in the Church, their joy and enthusiasm was evident. There was no questioning the fruit. Then the message of Pope Francis in Rio last July came to mind, “Go, do not be afraid, and serve”.

Full of hope

Looking back on the different gatherings of 2013 and the selfless people I have had the honour to work alongside, my heart is full of hope for the work of evangelisation in Ireland. A large part of 2013 involved me travelling around the country with two friends to give secondary school retreats. The young people we worked with were full of questions – does God have a plan for my life? What relevance does the Church have for a young person? Does God love even the most hardened sinner like me? I was reminded yet again that God can use the most broken and weak vessels to give Him glory.


In April we witnessed the openness of people, when invited and approached on the street, to take time to pray, light a candle and adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, when Nightfever launched in Dublin and has since spread to Galway and Cork. I think also of the different youth retreats that took place up and down this country in the hope that young people would receive the message of the Gospel. Three gatherings in particular will remain highlights for me personally: The first national Pope John Paul II Festival which took place in Knock in October. Here I witnessed teenagers giving up their bank holiday Saturday to grow in their faith and have a positive experience of Church, with the common thread being the Pope John Paul II Award. In July 2013 we saw an extraordinary event take place with several hundred young people gathering in Church Street, Dublin to take part in the journey of World Youth Day for Rio in Dublin. Not forgetting the Youth 2000 Summer Festival in its new venue of Roscrea, Co. Tipperary where over 1,000 young people gathered for a four-day festival like no other. These are just some events that have shaped 2013 for me, but I know there are many more. The task of youth evangelisation is reaching a new level with many people responding wholeheartedly to this invitation to go, to not be afraid and to say yes to service.

Evangelisation in 2014

The best tool to share the Gospel with young people is in fact another young person. 2014 is calling each of us out upon new waters and asking us for greater faith.

It is through our personal encounter with Christ that we can then go and share this with others, we first must receive what we proclaim ourselves. After all Mother Angelica tells us: ìBoldness should be the 11th Commandment!î

This ëboldnessí for a young person at parish level may take the form of engaging in different ministries, ie becoming a Minister of the Word or Minister of Holy Communion, or perhaps we want to help with the newsletter or organise a notice board in the church porch specifically for young people? Maybe we want to get involved with the Pope John Paul II Award or a social justice programme, or start a prayer group? Donít be afraid to get creative and use all of your talents.

Missionary zeal

ìEven if it is not always easy to approach young people, progress has been made in two areas: the awareness that the entire community is called to evangelise and educate the young, and the urgent need for the young to exercise great leadership.íí(Evangelii Gaudium, 106)

We should not get disheartened by our efforts to reach out to young people but grow in trust that we are to press forward in sowing seeds and that one day God will grow. Why not make New Yearís resolutions that take the form of a further commitment to Christ. 

Whether it be a decision to share faith events on Facebook, a decision to go on a personal retreat, a commitment to study your faith more, a choice to share your talents and abilities with a faith organisation, to organise something to mark the Canonisations of Blessed John Paul II, and John XXII or to receive training to equip you as a disciple or maybe a decision to add a daily prayer time to your timetable.

Whatever decision you make for 2014, fill it with
missionary zeal and know that through you God is working!