Introduction by Bishop Denis Brennan
The Way Forward has been a collaboration of many ideas and youth ambitions by our clergy, lay parishioners, teachers, and of course our young people. Although Ireland, and indeed the world, has been in a ‘virtual’ lockdown this year, it was instrumental in providing the space to formulate a plan that would cohesively gather these ideas and long-term ambitions beneath the umbrella of Ferns Youth Ministry.
Within the Diocese of Ferns, we have long been curtailed by our history of abuse which resulted in the ceasing of all youth ministry until perpetrators were brought to justice and a safer environment was established. Fifteen years later, and nearing the end of my own administration, I am delighted to introduce this document as a mechanism by which we can enable our young people to form a personal relationship with God.
In launching The Way Forward, we chose to build a Star. A Star that would be seen from miles away as a message of hope to our young people that God is the way. As we prepare to install this Star on the top of St Peter’s College in Wexford, it struck me as quite significant that we are launching this initiative in December of 2020.
Firstly, it is the season of Advent, a time of waiting. For the Diocese of Ferns, youth ministry has been waiting. Although there have been such wonderful faith opportunities as the annual trip to Lourdes and World Youth Day, these opportunities were only open to a small minority. This Star is a symbol that says to all young people, ‘you do not have to wait any longer.’
The second significant reason is due to the challenging pandemic year of 2020, one which has turned our world upside down. Lighting this Star, I believe, is like lighting a Star of Hope for 2021. Just as the shepherds and Wise Men followed the Star to the birth of Jesus, so too does this light symbolise the Way Forward in opening that door once again for our young people to the possibility of Jesus in their lives.
Quite often we hear that young people do not believe in God, do not want God, do not need God. I say they do not believe or want God because they do not know Him, but they do need Him. With God in their lives, they have hope, they have peace, they have love and they have joy. I encourage all of you in key positions throughout the Diocese to support this document, one that I have no doubt will continue to evolve in ensuring that each of our young people in the Diocese of Ferns are provided with the way forward towards God.
+ Denis Brennan
Bishop of Ferns
For further details please click The Way Forward 3 Year Plan December 2020