'Maybe I should go to the skate park and meet them...'
At one of our 'Offering Hope' workshops I was sat next to a priest. During one of the activities we were thinking about our previous interactions with young people. We had just been talking about the need to go and meet the young people ‘where they are at’, and had examined this quote from Catholic Missionary Vincent Donovan:
'In working with young people,
do not try to call them back to where they were,
and do not try to call them to where you are,
as beautiful as that place may seem to you.
You must have the courage to go with them
to a place that neither you nor they have ever been before'
This particular priest sighed, and said that he never saw any young people in his Church. Instead, he said, they would always be at the nearby skate park.
Then, a look of dawning understanding came on his face.
He turned to me and said:
'maybe I shouldn't be expecting the young people to come me,
maybe I should go to the skate park and meet them'.
This simple idea, of meeting young people in a ‘new place’ had really taken hold of him. It allowed him to think about new possibilities surrounding his ministry with young people.
That moment with that priest has really stuck with me. I quite literally saw him breaking out of his own comfort zone in seeing how the Church could accompany young people in new ways.