Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Committee or charism?

Not infrequently I find myself talking about some organisation or other in the Church and asking the person I am talking to about the charism or particular founding intuition of the organisation. I think about diocesan youth services in this way, and the question could also be extended to other diocesan set ups, such as the justice and peace commission, etc. This doesn't mean that I think these various committees should necessarily be disbanded. It does mean that I think that, if they are to successfully renew their activity in the life of the Church, they should seek an inspiration or charism round which to form and direct their work; or they might as well disband. In a recent conversation it was the National Conference of Priests; this post - Catholic Youth Quango - raises the same question with regard to the latest enterprise in national Catholic youth ministry.

Yes, there is a nice acronym. Yes, there appears to be a launch congress. But no, there is no sign of a patron saint, no sign of what are characteristic features of the new movements, Eucharistic and Marian devotion. Look at their six objectives - and, since it doesn't seem to have properly formed or launched yet, the claim to be "the single most experienced and qualified body in the UK to hold, protect and further the vision of youth ministry" seems fanciful.

But absolutely no sense of being founded or begun in response to a particular gift or grace from God, or, indeed, to a particularly discerned need in the Church and the world (I don't think they are offering anything that isn't already out there, in a much more lively form, within the framework of the charisms of the new movements).

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