Q&A: A Youth Worker’s Perspective

Q&A: A Youth Worker’s Perspective


A Catholic educator discusses the gaps she’s seen in Irish youth’s theological instruction during her decade of experience.

Q: How would you describe ministry to Irish youth? 01

Hired positions in the Catholic Church for youth ministry are far and few between. There could be one person assigned per diocese. So I don’t think [youth ministry] is a prioirty, if I’m being very honest.

I know due to the scandals and all that in the Church they have had to tighten up; most of the resources are going to child protection. By the church’s official leadership, [youth ministry] is minimum, but I think the lay organisations in the church are definitely far more active and efficient than our own church.

Q: If fewer young people are going to church or mass, especially as they get older, where are they getting their perception of church? 02

I think they’ve seen it as something not relevant to them … that has no impact on their life. They have no communication even with the church. They come to school, they receive whatever religious instruction [to] make the sacraments, then they’re good until they have to get married. Literally. No one comes near them. They have no incentive to attend.

Q: How would you rate young people's level of engagement with the Bible? 03

I’ll be honest, for a long time people would joke if you read the Bible, “Why? Are you Protestant? … Yet there’s the serious truth in that.

On retreats we give out Bibles, and we instruct them. But if you give somebody a Bible and [say], “There you go, Good luck,” it’s pretty difficult to make that journey on your own. Some of the people involved in the faith, I doubt they know the story of salvation. And I only unearthed that in my second master’s [degree]. Imagine that. The story of salvation, the bigger picture, isn’t really given. Because if it was, then something clicks, and they have a sense of ownership that “This is my story–God’s story, my story.”

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