Hundreds of young Catholics gather to celebrate Faith
Ireland’s leading Catholic youth movement has urged parish communities bot to be afraid to reach out to young people and invite them to be more active in the Faith.
Youth 2000 – which is celebrating 30 years in existence this year – has just played host to almost 300 young Catholics at the annual St Valentine’s Day Ball in Co. Kildare. It was almost double the number of people who attended last year.
Máire McAteer, development officer with the group, told The Irish Catholic that their experience was that “more and more young people are coming forward to be involved in the Church and want to act as evangelisers to other young people”.
She said that “we have a great resource in our young Catholics who are on fire with the faith. Our experience is that when parishes try things like prayer groups young people respond very positively and even those who may not have been practising Catholics enrich and deepen their faith”.
Emma Maloney, who works in the Youth 2000 national office and was one of the organisers at the ball, said she was “delighted” with the turnout.
“It’s a great opportunity for normal young people who share a deep love for their faith to come together in a social atmosphere and have the craic,” she said.
Emma also said that the group has ambitious plans the year ahead and has set a target of increasing the number of prayer groups around the country by 20% as well as increasing numbers at the annual youth festival by the same margin.
Máire encouraged any parish that was thinking about setting up a prayer group or youth ministry to take the plunge. “Don’t be afraid, young Catholics are there, they want to be engaged about their Faith and we find that they love sharing their Faith,” she said.
She also said that priests should see young people who are involved in Youth 2000 as “a huge resource to help them reach other young people.
“There are so many talented young Catholics who have a great passion for their Faith and can help bring other young people along with them and help them deepen their own Faith,” she said.
Emma urged young people to have the courage to set up a prayer group in their own parish. “Approach the parish priest, talk to him – help find like-minded young people. It is such a rich blessing for a parish.”
She also encouraged priests who may feel that young people are not interested in religion to think again. “Young people are there and they have deep spiritual needs to be met. Our experience is that if you can tap in to this there are great spiritual fruits,” she said.
“Sometimes we don’t see young people in parishes,” Máire insisted, “and they love to come together with other young Catholics at events like the ball and they go back to their parishes renewed and ready to evangelise other young people around them”.