Reflection from the Annual Clergy Conference held at Torquay June, 2018

Monday 25 July 2018

Dear Parishioners,
In June I attended the Annual Clergy Conference along with many fellow priests. This year the event was held at Torquay. The topic was "Young people and religion in Australia: The Bigger Picture"

The conference discussed youth and draws from research and census data. Following are my notes.

From an optional religion question on the 2016 census:
  1. What percentage of Australians said they had some religion? 60.3%
  2. What percentage said they had no religion? 30%
  3. What percentage did not answer the question? 9.6%
  4. The largest group was Christianity (down 3%). (I wondered how many said they were Catholic? Did it go up or down from 2016?)
  5. What is the fastest growing religion in Australia? Hinduism
From the UNSW research project on "joining and belonging" 2016.
The Church, however, is not the only organization having a youth membership crisis. Other Australian organisations or movements whose youth membership statistics are as poor or worse than those of the Church are:
  • Trade unions
  • Political Parties
  • Social Services
  • Rotary
  • Lions
  • Apex
  • Scouts
  • Red Cross
From the ACU survey of 2,000 young Australians (15-25) in 2016
The vast majority said they were inspired by Jesus and His message but cannot see how His message is reflected in the structures of the Church. The five major blocks to belonging to the Church and participating in it were identified as:
  1. Sexual abuse, hypocriscy
  2. Lifeless Liturgy, poor preaching (simple connect to everyday life)
  3. Lack of women leadership
  4. Why does God allow suffering (leading to suicide)
  5. Australians with no religion: 7 million
  • As Christians we need to witness by word, inculturation and liberation. The Church is the third largest employer (188,000) after Wesfarmers and BHP.
  • There are 500 different services offered by Church.
  • 18,000 volunteers work for St Vincent de Paul
  • 1,321 Parishes.
  • 662,943 goes to Church every Sunday.
  • 94,150 are between the ages of 13-18.
  • 3,100 Priests.
  • 5,000 funerals take place every year.
  • Compassion, gratitude, forgiveness and love should be our trademark.
  • There are some people who want to see the Church fail.
  • State schools, Islamic schools, journalists, lawyers and psychologists were not fully covered by the Royal Commission.
  • Many behave like they are emotionally 15 years old.
  • We cannot limit God with our language.
  • Be kind to the person whom you don't like.
  • God chooses to stay in love with us.
  • God is with us now.
  • God doesn't need us, but he wants us.
  • 25% of people consume 75% of world’s resources.
  • Say to a person who is suffering that my love and prayers are with you.
  • By forgiveness I am setting myself free.
  • Love is sacrificial.

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