By representatives from
St Joseph’s Convent,
Port of Spain
As young people, we face many challenges. There is a myriad of issues we must navigate and in this increasingly information saturated era, it can be difficult to find clarity.
On Monday, July 3, four Catholic schools were invited to the Archbishop’s House for a luncheon meeting. There were two representatives from each of the four schools present: Holy Faith Convent, Couva, Providence Girls’ Catholic Secondary School, St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, and St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain.
From the first moment, Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon encouraged us to be completely honest and open, “this is a ‘no-topics-barred’ conversation” in which he really wanted to get insight into our perspectives. As such he allowed our questions to determine the content of the meeting.
After short introductions from each school and a discussion of our expectations for the meeting, we delved in.
One student commented, “Some young Catholics appear to be ashamed of some
aspects of their faith, why do you think this is?” A wide range of opinions were offered in the discussion of this issue.
One student explained that it may be the natural uncertainty experienced by young people during this time where we are discovering ourselves, questioning some of the things we may have been taught to determine our values and
Another student proposed that potential judgement and being stereotyped by others would be a major contributor to some young people feeling ashamed of their faith. While another commented that from her experiences young Catholics are in fact, quite vibrant and confident in expressing their faith but that there was still room for improvement.
Questions were raised about the Church’s controversial perspectives of the
LGBTQIA+ community, whether abortion was considered murder by the Catholic Church, the apparent gender inequality as women aren’t allowed to hold the highest positions in the Catholic Church, and even the political landscape in Trinidad and Tobago.
We not only discussed amongst ourselves but also attentively listened to the perspective offered by His Grace.
For instance, regarding abortion, the Archbishop asked, “At what point during conception does the foetus become human?” He explained his reasoning that from the moment of fertilisation, the DNA of the foetus is different from both the mother and father, thus should be considered as distinct life, and a precious gift from God.
In our discussion of the LGBTQIA+ community, His Grace shared his belief that issues can arise when differences of opinion become legal battles. He believes that the controversy surrounding the use of pronouns to comply with various gender beliefs is a sign of societal breakdown, evident in the frequent uproars on social media.
On the issue of gender inequality, he emphasised that there are many women in the Church with essential roles and that we should consider that God was intentional in choosing His disciples.
A major theme that emerged throughout our discussions was the importance of
continuing to seek clarity. Each student expressed her views and upon listening to each other’s perspectives we were all left with much to consider. Additionally, he explained that his generation was very strict, with the mindset that everyone must conform to the way things have always been done. Our generation, however, has swung to the opposite side, where everyone is allowed to choose their own truth.
Both these mentalities have drawbacks. The ideal situation would be for older and younger generations to meet in the middle; staying strong in our beliefs, while remaining compassionate.
Meeting the Archbishop and engaging with a phenomenal group of diverse young women was a truly impactful, and exceedingly positive experience.
Our discussions were quite thought-provoking.