Sunday, 4 August 2013
Age-limited Catholic events
Various organisations arrange events for different age groups. In many cases this is uncontroversial; if an event is arranged such as the Faith Summer Break (coming up soon) for 11-15 year olds, it is unlikely that a 40 year old is going to be offended by being excluded. And I don’t have middle aged people complaining to me that they are not allowed to come to the toddlers’ group and play on the pretend police car.
In terms of sex specific groups we seem to have settled down. There is no push to have men join the Union of Catholic Mothers or the Catholic Women’s League and there seems to be peace as regards the Knights of St Columba being reserved to men.
Discontent does sometimes focus around groups for young adults. Typically the limit is 18-35. This is true of the Faith Summer Session, Evangelium and the London Oratory’s Young Catholic Adults group. People who have tripped over the age limit can be annoyed that they are not allowed to go. Since this is a regular complaint, I thought it would be useful to have a blog post that I can refer to in the future when this comes up.
It is perfectly reasonable to have events specifically for young adults and you have to set a limit somewhere: 18-35 seems a reasonable compromise. There is an advantage in allowing people within such an age band to meet together and share common interests, quite apart from the talks that might form part of the activity. One hopes that some good marriages might result, and experience shows that this sometimes happens. Of course it is a bit annoying for people to find that they have outgrown such groups, especially if they haven’t found them earlier in life.
We probably do need more groups for people of all ages. The recent Day of Faith was a response to this need, and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are doing a great job at providing events open to everyone. As we progress through the generation that lacked adequate catechesis and land up with the generation that does not know the “Our Father”, there is a real thirst for catechesis not only among the young but also among older people. People also need the opportunity to mix socially with Catholics who love their faith and to benefit from the encouragement and support that this provides.
So I am all in favour or groups for young adults but also support the wider provision of days and conferences that are open to all.