By Anthony Barich
The Diocese of Bunbury is gearing up for a World Youth Day-style retreat on April 4-5 – the first of what will be a concerted effort to build the faith of young people in the far-flung diocese.
Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan told The Record that an interim youth council has been formed that he intends to evolve into the equivalent of a Diocesan Pastoral Council to advises= the diocese and the bishop on the direction of youth ministry.
The Diocesan Youth Council consists of six youth representatives, two each from the diocese’s three deaneries of the Lower South West, South West and Great Southern, plus Bunbury Cathedral priest Fr Jess Navara, the diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator Sue Barton and Bishop Holohan, who chaired the meeting.
The interim youth council has been set up to come up with proposals for a permanent diocesan youth council including terms of reference and membership. This will then be discussed by various consultant agencies including youth, and whatever finally emerges will be implemented.
Bishop Holohan said that supporting youth ministry in a diocese like Bunbury presents a special challenge as the parishes are so scattered.
The farthest parish, for example, Esperance, is 700km from Bunbury.
The April 4-5 retreat in Bunbury will be the the first of its kind following the WYD08 style in Sydney. It will be a combination of catechesis, reflection and adoration, focusing in various ways on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus to “help open ourselves to the experience that Christ offers”, particularly in Holy Week and Easter, Bishop Holohan said.
It will also have a strong social element, including bootscooting in the evening. Young people from more distant parishes will be billeted overnight in Bunbury.
“In essence, in a diocese this size, the key is for parishes to run events more frequently themselves, either in regions (into which the diocese is divided) or on their own,” the bishop said.
The retreat is the result of two meetings of Bunbury youth who attended WYD08, who suggested a Palm Sunday weekend retreat, among other things, as potential initiatives.
“For us it’s a huge event,” the bishop said.