Another young lay delegate who featured at the National Pre-Synodal Assembly discussion, Patrick Byrne from the Diocese of Ardagh, told The Synodal Times that the discussions had been stimulating, but more needs to be done if the Church wishes to fruitfully reach out to the margins.
“It’s been a very good experience”, he said. “What I think was very nice about it is the fact that it’s everyone together – it’s the whole country and the bishops are among the people. They’re not sitting on their own but they are among the people at the tables and listening to what everyone is saying.”
When asked whether he believed that events such as the National Pre-Synod Assembly will assist in bringing forth change in the Church, Mr Byrne replied that he “hopes this will bring good change for the future ….. One of my main focuses is that we have more lay involvement. I’m doing a master’s degree at the moment in chaplaincy and pastoral work and I’m doing a thesis on lay involvement. I’d like for there to be a plan put in place for lay people to be recognised in the Church with the dwindling numbers”.
Mr Byrne was adamant that young people have appetite for faith and that the Church should not be afraid to harness these convictions going forward into the future. “Young people are very enthusiastic about faith and religion and I think our main goal should be to involve these young people through the Church,” he said.
Although feedback from various diocesan synodal reports indicated that many youth have become disillusioned with faith, thus relegating the Church to an irrelevant status, Mr Byrne spoke positively of his relationship with his local parish but admitted that the Church still has a long way to go before it can resonate with young people.
“I have a good relationship with the Church at local level,” he said. “Church policies surrounding lots of the social issues – the big issues – need to be modernised. Society has moved on but the Church is too far back and needs to progress.
“More needs to be done in bringing people in the margins to something like this. People are very good during these occasions at speaking to the margins beforehand. But I feel looking around there today that there aren’t enough people from the margins in the room,” he said.