I am so inspired and energized by the young members of our group, who have helped me look more deeply into myself and my history in the church. From early on, I have always felt a connection with generations younger than myself. Early in my career, I worked as a teacher, counselor, and therapist with children and adolescents and felt I was able to foster healing and empathic relationships with them. Even in my family, my husband and I have valued the different strengths we brought to raising our children. He was much better in dealing with our sons when they were babies or very young. When they reached middle to high school, that is where I felt my deepest connection and empowerment with them. Luckily, we were in a position when the boys were young that I went back to work and my husband stayed home. As the boys got older, as a nurse, I was able to work my schedule to allow myself to be home when they were home. Bringing the voices and energy of the young into our church would so energize our church and I do feel I could help make that happen. As of now, our parish is an aging community, but our new pastor of the last few years has worked with young people for most of his ministry and has a gift for connecting with them. He focuses on the young families and children we do have and makes them feel an important part of our community in very caring and creative ways. We are beginning to see the number of young families increase. I look forward to when we can be back together again, so we can continue to build that community.
I was a young woman when Vatican II happened and I remember feeling so excited and hopeful about the direction in which the church was moving. At the time, I was part of a parish that had a large group of young people around my age and, with the help of one of our young parish priests, we implemented many changes in our liturgies that enlivened our worship and inspired our community. As the years moved along, I was disappointed that many of the recommendations of Vatican II were yet to be implemented. I felt deflated, especially when some changes were made to the liturgy that actually returned us to pre-Vatican II times. Then there was the election of Pope Francis, which I could only attribute to the work of the Spirit! Who would have believed that would happen?
I was particularly struck by Richard Rohr’s daily meditation yesterday, which talked about the lives of Francis and Clare of Assisi, who worked outside of the box. In his closing, he said: “When Jesus and John’s Gospel used the term “the world,” they did not mean the earth, creation, or civilization, which Jesus clearly came to love and save (see John 12:47). They were referring to idolatrous systems and institutions that are invariably self-referential and “always passing away” (see 1 Corinthians 7:31). Francis and Clare showed us it is possible to change the system not by negative attacks (which tend to inflate the ego), but simply by quietly moving to the side and doing it better!” Maybe that is what we need to do.