Honest, inclusive engagement is needed to encourage young people into the church and religion, according to the new Bishop-Elect of Cork.
Fr Fintan Gavin will be ordained as Bishop of Cork and Ross on Sunday in the first ordination of a Catholic Bishop in Cork since 1984 when Bishop John Buckley was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese.
Fr Fintan was visiting the grounds of Nano Nagle Place on Wednesday where he took part in a dance routine with a group of children.
Originally from Dublin, Fr Fintan has served as the Chancellor of the Dublin Archdiocese and also in Our Lady of Victories Parish, Dublin.
He spent much of his early career in the priesthood working with young people and said that honesty and inclusivity is crucial to engaging them with the church and its message.
Speaking this week ahead of his ordination on Sunday, Fr Fintan said that appealing to young people can be achieved “by being honest, by being fair and by being inclusive”.
“Young people have always been a big part of my ministry,” he added, revealing he had also spent time working with university students in Rome while studying there himself.
“I think you do that (appeal to young people) by being honest, by being sincere and by being yourself,” he explained.
“Not by trying to be a young person but by being open with young people and not afraid to engage with them or be afraid of them.
“Pope Francis recently issued a letter of encouragement on the topic saying young people are not just the future of the church, that they are the ‘now’ of the church,” he added.
“He said ‘you are the now of God’ and I think we have to believe that.”
The Bishop-Elect said he was very keen to ensure that young people are represented at his ordination on Sunday.
A number of youth organisations and choirs will be involved on the day.
“If young people see a church full of people who aren’t their generation they think ‘that’s not us, we’re not part of this’,” Fr Fintan explained.
“But, in fact, they are a huge part of it.” Fr Fintan acknowledged that there are many challenges facing young people in society today and that it is important that the church is there to offer hope and support, not a burden.
“It’s not easy being a young person today in Cork, Ireland or across the world,” he said.
“We have to be able to accompany young people on that journey and offer them a message of hope.
“The church should be something that helps them and not something that is seen as a burden,” he added.
Fr Fintan explained that while he was able to work with these ideals in mind as a priest, he will continue to encourage such engagement in his role as Bishop.
His ordination which is expected to attract thousands will be the first ordination in Cork which will be streamed live on the internet on the website of the diocese at www.corkandross.org.
The ceremony will also be shown on a large screen being installed in Skibbereen’s Cathedral.