James Trewby, the Columban Justice and Peace Education Worker recently came to talk to the Curia about engaging with young people. James has undertaken research into the pedagogical aspects of gap-year experiences and the life-stories of young activists.

James spoke about working in the niche between people involved with faith and people living working for justice. James commented that young people and adults do care about justice issues, but many do not know how to “act.” They often need “guidance and challenge” to help them actively develop their faith and passion.

A challenge for many faith-based organisations is how to help young people develop deeper engagement for justice and not just charitable responses. James described this as “education for action and justice and not an education for charity.”

James also noted that many young people are asking themselves the question: “what will give me life and create positive outcomes for the world”. There are a number of key considerations which underpin a response to this question:

  • Learning through encounter – create opportunities to bring faith activists to meet young people and share their personal stories. For example, there is now an online interactive resource which enables young people to talk with missionaries all over the world meetamissionary.org.uk
  • Focus on values and not specific actions – Many faith activists are engaged with more than one challenge because many challenges are inter-linked. For the Passionists we would be looking at supporting “faith formation through the eyes of the crucified.”
  • Collaboration with friends and partners – Working in partnership with others to support faith formation and faith in action is very important. Possible partners include CYMFED, peace and justice networks, Diocesan Catholic Education Services, Association for Catholic Chaplains in Education (ACCE), plus similar organisation for University Chaplaincies and Cathedral Chaplaincies, Student Christian Movement (SCM), etc.
  • Deliver opportunities for “Faith in Action” and challenge young people to ask “if not me, then who?” – Practical faith in action formation programmes are important. For example, a gap-year or intern programmes can help young people develop their discipleship and skills for action.
  • Being clear about our Charism – For the Passionists, this means being with the crucified of today. Clarity about this vision and opportunities to help young people engage with “the crucified” provides a platform for changing values, not just with young people themselves but also with wider Church and society.