A time to choose what matters

This article takes up a challenge from Pope Francis and asks whether a harmonious and mutually reinforcing home-school-parish partnership could become a legacy of Covid-19. Stephen Reilly is Co-ordinator of Spiritual and Pastoral Formation at the University of Glasgow and a priest of the Diocese of Motherwell.

Addressing a gathering of Argentinian young people at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, Pope Francis invited them to go back to their dioceses and shake things up, make a mess (hagan lío!). How might this call apply to youth ministry in a time in which everything appears a mess, when the Covid-19 pandemic has put everything up in the air?

In Evangelii gaudium (EG), Francis draws on his Ignatian roots, in particular the tradition of discernment, in challenging the Church to place mission at the heart of pastoral structures and activity. He calls for a ‘wise and realistic pastoral discernment’, involving the faithful, pastors and bishops, which, ‘seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”’, and which reshapes ‘the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization’. (EG 33). Shaking up structures and methods allows them to be sifted, and to settle in a new configuration, which will bed in and become stable forms which will bear fruit.

The current Covid crisis, which has caused so much pain, loneliness and bewilderment, is also a time in which new creative forms of evangelisation and community life are emerging. Pastors, educators and lay faithful are finding new, experimental ways to worship and communicate the Gospel.

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