March 29 | comments icon 1 COMMENT     print icon print

4-GLASGOW-UNIVERSITY

Faith in Action: Three steps to saving our Church for future generations

Times are challenging for the Church in Scotland, never more so than in recent months, so we thought to take a close look at some positive news for young Catholics, starting with Gabriele Franchi de’ Cavalieri’s report on Glasgow University’s Catholic Association

The Catholic Church has surely been facing some major challenges in Scotland in the past few years. While part of society is becoming more and more aggressive towards religious people, the Church is aging quickly as a large number of young people are giving up their Faith.

Complaining about this aggressive secularism however is hardly of any use if we want to ‘fight’ it back. We should rather start from an analysis of what have been our faults and what are the aspects that we necessarily have to improve.

First of all we should probably invest and trust more in young people and give them more opportunities to develop their faith as they represent the future of our Church and society. A second important aspect is that we need to be more integrated in our society: while we often feel safer within the walls of the Church and within our groups of Catholic friends, the more we go out into society, the more the rest of society will get to know and accept us (and our Faith), the more we will be able to bring Jesus’ message to everyone. Finally, a third aspect is to improve our use and understanding of new media and new forms of communication.

Evidently, these three goals can be applied to the Church as a whole as well as every local community and parish. Our experience at the Catholic Chaplaincy of Glasgow University this year has been quite successful and it is worth mentioning.

In order to achieve the first goal, in September, we founded the Catholic Society of the University of Glasgow. This group, which meets weekly, has the main goals of providing students the opportunity to develop their Faith, build up a community of friends and develop their own personalities in the framework of Christian values. At the same time, this year two other student groups were founded: a politics group and a Society of St Vincent de Paul. Both of them meet weekly or fortnightly.

The foundation of the University of Glasgow Catholic Association—which brings together the three groups listed before and a Praesidium of the Legion of Mary—has been a further step towards the three goals described before. Apart from making it easier to coordinate all the Catholics groups at the university, this association gives the opportunity to new and old students to find the group that best fits their interest and their aspiration, so that anyone can develop his/her own talent in the best way.

A second important goal of the association is to make the Catholic community more integrated in campus. The main way in which we try to achieve this is through activities with other societies of the university. A good example of this is the debate on religion and politics organised by the Politics Society, our association and the Sceptical Society in which the pro-religion team was represented by four of our members. The debate turned out to be very civilised and respectful and many people from both sides after the end came to talk to us to say how they truly enjoyed the debate. For the future we are thinking about many other joint activities, for example an interfaith prayer event with other religious groups at the university.

Engaging in new media and communication is the last, but not least, of the goals of the Catholic Association. We took this so seriously that we even have a consultant who will help us to develop our own web site, a Facebook and a Twitter account which will arrive soon.

Moreover, we are trying to engage with our local media. You might have heard on BBC Radio Scotland an interview with our students on the resignation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and of Cardinal Keith O’Brien. In addition to appearing in The SCO, we have been contacted by other Catholic press for possible collaborations.

The last aspect that I would like to underline is the role of lay people in the association. The decision-making body is the committee, which is elected and composed of the president, the secretary, the treasurer, the spiritual director (the Catholic chaplain) and three officers whose main role is to try to achieve the three main goals of the association (welcoming new students, integrating the Catholic community in the university and engaging in media and communications). This reflects our idea of the role of lay people in the Church, who not only should feel a bigger sense of responsibility about the future of our Church but should also accept leadership roles and being more active in proposing ideas and activities within their parish and local communities. This acquires even more importance and relevance given the decreasing number of priests in this country.

I hope that our story may give you some hope and at the same time to be of encouragement for your work in your local community.

Please, keep us in your prayers.

 

— Gabriele is president of the Glasgow University Catholic Association. He can be found on Twitter @GabrieleFdC

 

—Faith in Action is a fortnightly news round up from our Catholic university chaplaincies. Strong in Faith is an online discussion forum for young Catholics. Current topic: Pope Francis is calling for the Church to ‘go outside itself’ and reach out to those in spiritual need. How can we put this into practice in Scotland? Have your say at http://www.facebook.com/scostronginfaith

 

 

 

Comments - One Response

  1. Anthony says:

    Fantastic analysis and not one mention of asking the church to change doctrines to fit with the times.About time more people stopped believing its the Churches job to change rather than it’s the Churches job to sell its ideas properly to a spiritually hungry society.

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