Redemptorists to fire up Perth youth with St Paul

13 May 2009

By The Record

Redemptorists asked to continue post-World Youth Day retreats for youth.


Spanish youth celebrate after the announcement that their country will host the next World Youth Day in 2011. Archbishop Barry Hickey has appointed priests from an Order known for their inspired preaching to fire up Perth youth to build on the passion generated by WYD08 in Sydney. Photo: CNS


By Anthony Barich

PRIESTS of a Religious Order known for its passionate and relevant preaching are leading the Archdiocese of Perth’s newest retreats next month, continuing the crucial catecheses held during World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney.
Redemptorist Fathers Hugh Thomas and Dominic Savio, the new chaplain of the Archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Ministry office, are delivering vibrant catechesis on St Paul and how the master evangeliser’s words of wisdom, inspired by the Holy Spirit itself, can have a profound impact on the everyday lives of today’s youth.
As part of Archbishop Barry Hickey’s program to build on the successful catecheses of WYD08, three night seminars will be held at St Thomas More parish hall Bateman at 7.30pm on June 5, 12 and 19 plus a day retreat there from 9am-5pm on June 27.
The sessions will have a revamped format that differs from a similar series held by the Archdiocese in South Perth last year that focused on Carmelite saints, with youth music provided this time around by local musicians Gaetan Raspanti, Shaun McDermott and Oliver Brandis.
Fr Hugh Thomas CSsR, himself very experienced in working with Perth youth, said that St Paul is similar to the hundreds of thousands of young people aged 15-35 and beyond who attended WYD08 in that they had a personal experience with Christ and His Church. The coming catechesis sessions build on this experience.
“As one of the chief persecutors of the Church, Paul was like the Taliban – he had lots of energy and drive, totally convinced that he was doing the work of God but was actually causing carnage everywhere. We often are so convinced that what we are doing is right, but when we have a personal experience with Christ, He can use us for good in the world, to bring about His kingdom,” Fr Thomas said.
“Young people, too, have so much drive, energy and enthusiasm. Paul has much to offer them to channel their energy to do good in the world through their connection with Christ and His Church.” He said that we often hear St Paul’s teaching at Mass on Sundays, but by not delving under the surface we may never really fully understand what he’s really saying in these bite-sized grabs if they are not explained.
Fr Thomas said that if today’s youth can capture some of St Paul’s spirit, they can have a significant effect on the world.
“Paul was working in a predominantly non-Christian, decadent Roman society – not unlike the one that young people find themselves in today,” Fr Thomas said.
Yet St Paul had a huge impact on his society, Fr Thomas said, and the saint’s legacy is seen in the Church today as he shaped much of its thinking.
Fr Thomas said that St Paul’s teachings include many catch phrases that are known outside the Catholic world, like “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” – this is a profound teaching, he says, as St Paul admits his weakness but says God uses us in our weaknesses. “This gives us hope to persevere whenever we think we can’t get through a tough period,” Fr Thomas said.
Fr Thomas said that St Paul’s letters are personally inspiring to him, especially his letter to the Philippians, where he explains his impressive, impeccable credentials as a circumcised Jew and Pharisee – yet, the saint admits, it all counts for nothing now that Jesus has become the centre of his life. The Jews turned on him as a traitor, yet he persisted and is remembered today as one of the Church’s great evangelisers.
“St Paul has much to teach today’s youth about how to find love and peace – the love of Christ that this world can’t give,” Fr Thomas said.
The Redemptorists are also known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and were founded by St Alphonsus Liguori in 1732 in Italy, and was introduced to WA in 1899.  St Alphonsus was visiting the sick and dying when he realised God’s call to evangelise the poor.
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