Speaking to young delegates participating at the National Pre-Synod Assembly in Athlone, The Synodal Times asked those involved in Diocesan grassroots movements what their views on the Church at present are.
Here we speak to the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Kilmore, Francis Keaney.
Commenting on the days’ events, Mr Keaney felt that “everyone was very open and honest with one another” and that he “found the day really enjoyable so far.
“At times it can be a difficult conversation, but that’s the only way to make progress. It’s great that we’re all in this journey together and almost at the end of it. It’s very refreshing to hear that the problems in my diocese may be the same across others in Ireland,” he said.
When asked if he felt the Church was adequately reaching out to young people, he felt that “the Church was doing its best” while admitting that there’s “probably a generation that have moved away from the Church”.
Mr Keaney said that he had “a very good relationship with parish priests” and that he was “lucky enough to have a good school chaplain and a brilliant experience studying theology with priests and lecturers who valued you and encouraged you first as a person and second as an academic”.
Young people are looking for a reason to come back and that’s what motivates me as a youth director. I was a religion teacher for a number of years. I just tried to make religion relevant to young people’s lives. A lot of schools might do it until Junior Certificate year and it becomes a bit of a doss class. But I just think that if it’s taught in a certain way and if it’s presented to young people and you see religion not just as a subject but as a way to live a life and have your own personal relationship with God and teach that from a young age – I think that’s something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” he said.
When asked what type of Church young people would be willing to return to, Mr Keaney answered: “What young people are looking for is equality, encouragement, social justice – all the things that they read about on Facebook, which are also taught through the Catholic Church and it’s just about presenting them in that way towards young people”.