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February 16, 2018
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February 16, 2018

Church must engage youth, or risk missing the bus – Archbishop

Archbishop-elect Jason Gordon answers questions from the media at the October 19 press conference announcing his appointment. Photo: Raymond Syms

Archbishop Jason Gordon said the biggest challenge facing the Church is finding a way of engaging young adults so they become excited about Christ and committed to discipleship.

He added that youth are “uppermost” in his mind and heart and warned that if Catholics cannot propel the Church to speak meaningfully to them “then we are going to miss an incredibly big bus and I don’t know how we’re going to get back on that after,” Archbishop Gordon said during his first ‘Ask the Archbishop’ live chat February 7.

“If we don’t find a way…then 25 years from now their kids are not going to be Catholic, then go on from there we’re going to have a shrinking Catholic population but then we would not be fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ of proclaiming the Good News to all.”

Archbishop Gordon said it has been “an interesting time” in adjusting to the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.  He shared that his biggest challenge since becoming archbishop December 27, is the change of “volume” of work from a smaller diocese in Bridgetown, Barbados to now administrating a larger archdiocese.

“But there was a time when I was between Bridgetown and Kingstown (St Vincent and the Grenadines) where I was doing this flip flop every month, 10 days in each one and really trying to keep things moving. And it feels like that a lot because I’m still doing one-week administration in Bridgetown…three weeks in Port of Spain…. That’s tasking and exciting.”

Responding to the question of the type of change he wants to effect in his first year of office, the archbishop identified five “big areas” encompassing priesthood and vocations, parish, family, youth/young adults and Catholic education.

Feedback from these areas will not only gauge the faithful’s “sense” of these matters but also help facilitate a pastoral plan on the structural needs of the Church and ways to move the Church forward in a systematic and holistic way.

Archbishop Gordon was invited to share his thoughts on the practice of Catholics kissing the ring of the Archbishop. He made the distinction that this practice is not about the person but the office. “…Because of the practices, the human beings who hold the office started to become a little egocentric and started to believe they’re above and that is not where I want to be.”

He continued, “But on the other hand, the office is the office but I’m a human being and I try to surround myself with simplicity and ordinariness. I don’t want to stand out. I want to be simple and straightforward and serve people and offer people what they need.” – KJ