Catholic Youth Parramatta

Panel Discussion Between Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, Parents & Youth


Panel Discussion

Adrian, Nicole, Bishop Anthony Fisher, Loretta & Paul on the Panel

On Friday, 5
th November, a Panel Discussion took place at St Patrick’s Cathedral hall. The Panel members were: Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, Adrian Falleiro (Inflame Youth group, Penrith Parish), Nicole Grima (Antioch youth group, Plumpton Parish), Loretta Ring (Chancery) and Paul Worthington (CCD Director). Each panel member presented their points on the Generation Gap and challenges that face the youth.

Paul spoke about life in the 1950’s  being very family oriented and as years went by, many changes took place: culturally, socially, in technology, etc. In the past, children weren’t allowed to question their elders, now kids are trained to think for themselves. Adults need to understand their children and their children need to understand where their parents are coming from. “The family unit is crucial if we want to have young people in the Church”. The Parish where he and his family attend is very family orientated, it has a very active youth group and all the generations are present at Sunday Mass.

Nicole spoke about her childhood and teenage years. Though there were many factors around her e.g. peer pressure that did not encourage her to live the Christian way, she found continued support and guidance through her family, in their love and family prayer. While at Uni, she joined a youth group which provided her nourishment and support both on a social and spiritual level and encouraged her to start looking deeper into her faith and into the Mass. “Be part of a youth group and get involved” are some of Nicole’s recommendations. Through these, Nicole made her parents’ faith, her own.

Loretta compared her growing up in an ethnic culture to her child growing up in Australia: growing up, going to Church on Sunday was what all Catholics did, without question or objection, the way she related to her parents was more formal compared to her son’s approach. Young people now days have no inhibitions and are open to share about their lives. Though times have changed the values have not. For parents to be able to engage with their children, they need not be judgemental but to listen to their children, though they might be challenging and try to work things out together.

Adrian shared why he thinks many young Christian youth, decide to leave the Church. “It’s not because they are not interested in God or what is spiritual” He suggested that many youth misunderstand the concept of Religion, viewing it as blind legalism ‘religion equals rules/imposing of morality’ not ‘religion equals relationship with God’, done out of love. Without being involved in the Church, it becomes routine, meaningless, and/or “life is too hard to live it for Christ” as most of the world is not. Christianity needs to be “part of who you are, not what you do”. There is a lot of distraction and temptation out there, by owning our faith, having a strong relationship with God and getting involved in the Church e.g. in a youth group makes all the difference. Young people need to be educated and it’s important to cultivate the desire in the young people to seek and grow in their relationship with God.

Bishop Anthony talked on Generation X , Generation Y and changes in society. He posed a question whether this talk on Gen X and Gen Y is at all helpful or does it tend to stereotype people. Do they really describe perfectly the people in these Generations? They might help to shed some light on certain things but so many factors affect society e.g. secularisation, finances and these affect us all. Therefore these are a huge generalisation. Pope John Paul II was a great healer of the generation gap and young people loved him. Christians have something powerful to say to the world. We need to be one family in Jesus Christ and our faith needs to fill in the gaps. We need to recover that ideal of one generation caring and nurturing the next one, then they will look after the previous in return. One generation needs to be grateful for the previous (especially now there is the Euthanasia debate in Parliament).

Q & A followed. Gordon D’Mello did a wonderful job MCing the night.

To hear the Panel recording go to our multimedia gallery 

Annabelle Cauchi, Diocesan Youth Worker

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