Nothing about young people in ACP survey?
I have just read the results of your survey of catholic opinion on the internet. Firstly, let me congratulate you on this timely undertaking. Many of the findings are interesting if not unexpected. We need to know exactly where we stand.
Let me state my own particular interest. I am a retired secondary school teacher who taught, among other subjects, religion to junior and senior levels. There’s another subject worthy of thorough research – the status of religion teaching in our secondary schools – but that’s for another day. I am closely involved with liturgy in my local church, particularly that involving young people aged from sixteen to late twenties; I am a member of the parish liturgy committee and of the diocesan liturgy commission.
And now to my particular interest in your survey. Granted, any survey must be limited in the number of questions it can put, but I would have liked a few more on the liturgy. My own experience is that a sizeable minority of lay people are willing to be involved, but from my experience of dealing with school chaplains over a forty year period and with parish clergy over a longer period I have come to the regrettable conclusion the priests in general are just not interested in liturgy, with the exception of a few who are willing to ‘let you get on with it’ and even fewer who give active support and encouragement. We have six youth liturgies per year in our parish, organized mostly by the young people themselves, who are more than willing to expend a great deal of their time in detailed preparation and practice. Sometimes it has been difficult to get the celebrant to come to a practice. Four members of our eleven member liturgy committee are young people.
But my greatest gripe: I notice that you include ‘young people’ in your sample of respondents. As a celebrant at one of our recent liturgies pointed out, young people are not the future of our Church, they are its present. I was disappointed that no questions were asked about the place of young people in today’s Church. I have to be blunt. Some years ago at the local session of the diocesan listening process the top question at almost every table was: what can we do for our young people? However, there was little or no follow up. I find that, particularly among clergy, there is absolutely no interest in young people’s involvement, especially in liturgy. I have been interviewed on radio about young people’s involvement in the liturgy; I have written numerous articles for papers and magazines (Intercom and The Furrow), I regularly post an account of our own youth liturgies on the diocesan website. I think to all these outpourings I had one, perhaps two, comments. No one seems to be interested. Three times I attempted to develop the issue as a member of the diocesan liturgy commission; each time after a few desultory discussions the effort ran into the sand.
One last point: There was a nationwide attempt to ask for the reactions of the people to the letter of Pope Benedict to the Irish People some years ago. I decided to ask a group of young people to comment. Imagine my surprise when told by the collating body in Maynooth that ours was the only youth input in the entire island of Ireland!
Well, I have got that off my chest! Well done again.
Noel Casey, The Hill, Carrickbeg, Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary firstname.lastname@example.org 0868621511