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 Newly Appointed Co-ordinator for Youth Ministry...

 

paul murphyIt is with a great sense of joy and humility that I introduce myself as the newly appointed ‘Co-ordinator for Youth Ministry’ in the London Province of the Redemptorists.

This is a newly created and exciting post in the London Province and I feel deeply privileged to take up this wonderful opportunity to develop links with young people and young adults throughout the Province and to accompany and guide them on their ‘faith journey’.

In this article I give a brief flavour of who I am, where I’ve been and my hopes for the post as Co-ordinator for Youth Ministry.

Who am I?

Well I am a 37 year old (or should that be ‘young’) Scotsman who hails from deepest Lanarkshire, from the traditional steel town of Motherwell. I am a Chartered Educational Psychologist by profession, having worked in Glasgow and Elgin for the past 7 years in schools and nurseries, helping to assess and support children and young people with a variety of additional support needs. I have always been keen to become involved in parish life, particularly in encouraging young people to share their faith.

Up until now I have always worked on a voluntary basis as a lay member of the Catholic Church, but am delighted to now be embarking on the mission of supporting young people as Co-ordinator for Youth Ministry with the Redemptorists.

Until recent years, I lived in Motherwell and have spent most of my days as a parishioner of Our Lady of Good Aid, Motherwell Cathedral. I was involved in various ministries in the parish over the years, starting from a young age being altar server, to then being involved in the Music Ministry of the Parish for over 10 years, and being a Reader and a member of the Parish Pastoral Council.

My own ‘journey of faith’ has been strengthened by several visits to Lourdes (9 in total I think at the last time of counting) as a helper with the Handicapped Children’s Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT), the Motherwell ALMA groups and Hosanna House. It was in Lourdes that I started to truly appreciate the importance of sharing faith with others, and the absolute joy that this sharing brings. I started to realise that ‘young people’ can bring so much life, joy and hope to the Church in the helping of others, particularly of those who are considered most vulnerable in our society.

As a young-ish Catholic in Scotland, I have often experienced the feeling of ‘isolation’, not being able to share my faith as often as I would like to with other young Catholics. It was with this in mind that about 10 years ago I decided to arrange a Young Adult weekend retreat at Kinnoull Monastery in Perth. With the exception of a Parish Mission in Motherwell, this was to be my first meaningful link with the Redemptorists.

Such was the positive feedback from my friends and other young adults who attended that first retreat at Kinnoull, I decided to organise this retreat weekend on an annual basis. In February 2013, this retreat will celebrate its 10th anniversary and maybe illustrates how special we have all found Kinnoull and the Redemptorist community in Perth to be.

It also shows the thirst for God in the ‘young people’ of our time, and the keen desire they have for developing their faith with their peers. What I have noticed is that young people need just one thing ---- they need to be given ‘opportunities’ to enable them to talk about their faith in a safe environment, to share their ideas with other young people and to be given the confidence to be unashamed of their faith. We all need to accompany one another and help each other be true credible witnesses to Christ.

In August 2011 I was privileged to attend World Youth Day in Madrid, and to witness at first hand the sheer wonder of the universal Church. It was a joy to talk and chat and share stories with fellow young Catholics from all corners of the globe. An estimated 2 million young people attended World Youth Day, and it’s fair to say that for that week in August, I no longer felt ‘isolated’ in my faith. At times it is so easy to become disheartened as a young Catholic in this country, and in many parishes there are only but a few others to share your faith with.

Upon my return to Scotland from World Youth Day, I felt inspired and indeed compelled to put my experience of Madrid into some form of practical action. I became more deeply conscious of the importance of my faith and my ‘duty’ as a lay member of the Catholic Church to act as an ‘evangelizer’. The incredible scenes in Madrid and the power of the Holy Spirit were ‘driving’ me to share my faith and to actively encourage other young Catholics to do so.

At the time I was working in Elgin in the North-East of Scotland, and was part of a small local parish. After speaking with my Parish Priest, I established a Young Adult Group in the parish. A core group of 6 young people aged between 18-35 years met regularly to share their faith and to meet socially. I also helped the group to develop links with other young adult groups in Inverness and Aberdeen. I was struck by the desire of young people to get involved and the limitless potential we all had to ‘bring the Good News’ to others.

What are my hopes as Co-ordinator for Youth Ministry?

I was appointed Co-ordinator for Youth Ministry for the London Province of the Redemptorists in December 2012, so it is very early days. I will be based in the Bishop Eton Community in Liverpool and hope to establish links with young people and young adults here but also in the other Redemptorist parishes in the Province. This may involve organising and setting up Young Adult Groups, Retreats, assisting priests with Mission work or working closely with schools and colleges to encourage young people to become more familiar with the Redemptorists and their charism.

I am already committed to assisting two of the confreres in Parish Missions in both Coventry and Perth in February 2013 and have organised a Young Adult retreat weekend in Kinnoull later next month. There is also the Redemptorist Youth Congress to look forward to in Sardinia this August.

So I am hugely excited at the possibilities to build up and develop structures which hopefully will allow young Catholics in England and Scotland and across the Province to grow in their faith.

I hope to provide regular updates of what is happening with Youth Ministry across the Province on the website and welcome any enquiries or ideas from anyone who is interested in contacting me.

God Bless

Paul Murphy

Co-ordinator of Youth Ministry