AUSTRALIA’S Bishops will use results from the largest survey of young Catholics in Australia to support young people facing problems with mental health, relationships, politics and living the faith in a secular world.
More than 15,000 young peopled aged 16 to 29 completed a survey last year initiated by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, to be held this October in Rome.
The key concerns for the young people who completed the survey included mental health issues; questions around identity – ethnic, spiritual and sexual; loneliness; relationships and friendships; the direction of society, politics and the Church; and living out their faith in a secular world.
The Australian Bishops’ delegate for youth, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, said the survey results would shape the Church’s engagement with young people and help the bishops tackle with the issues raised in the survey.
“These are big issues that affect us all and they are all things about which the Church cares deeply and on which it has much to say,” Archbishop Fisher said.
Despite the challenges raised in the survey, Archbishop Fisher said it also showed “great hope” for the future.
“For millennials, there has never been a more important time to rededicate themselves to the message and life of Jesus Christ,” he said.
“If ever we needed new John the Baptists to call people to repent and believe, to offer some really Good News amidst all the bad, and to point people to Christ, it is right now.
“Never in history have young people been more necessary.
“Never have young people had more opportunities to be the spiritual heroes our nation and our world needs.”
Archbishop Fisher and Melbourne auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards will represent the ACBC at the October Synod.
Trudy Dantis, director of the Pastoral Research Office, which conducted the survey, said the overwhelming response from young people created rich data that could help the Church understand where its ministry was bearing fruit and where additional efforts might best be directed.
“It’s clear that many young people highly value what the Church has done for them and is doing for them, while others were willing to share their disappointment in the Church, which is sometimes harder to capture and analyse,” Dr Dantis said.
“This survey sought to really listen to what young people are saying.
“The bishops and all who work in the Church will better understand the views of young people after considering the findings of this survey and assessing how they can renew and energise the Church.”
ACBC’s Office for Youth director Malcolm Hart said the youth survey would help inform the Church’s ongoing ministry to young people through schools, parishes, youth groups, ethnic communities and other less formal settings.
“We heard that many young people enjoy gathering in structured setting, like Mass and liturgical events, others liked the ‘big event’ approach to their faith and others still preferred the casual nature of meeting in cafes and pubs to consider the big faith and life questions,” Mr Hart said.
“The Church wants to continue to engage with young people wherever they choose to gather and help be a focal point for their personal and spiritual growth.”
Read the results of the survey at www.catholic.org.au/youthsurvey