By DONAL MUSGRAVE
CATHOLIC youth clubs in Westminster diocese must get away from the " ghetto " and " closed-shop " mentality of seeing themselves in a world surrounded by non-Catholics. They should be open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
This was stated by Fr. Adrian Arrowsmith when he outlined a five-point plan to improve Catholic clubs in the diocese and bring them up to the standards of clubs run by other denominations. Fr. Arrowsmith has just been appointed Diocesan Youth
Organiser by Archbishop I feertan.
Each club will have a full-time professional youth leader trained and recognised by the Ministry of Education. There are now only five such Catholic youth leaders in the whole of Britain.
Negotiations will be started to get the clubs recognised by the Ministry of Education and local authorities. Management committees a ill be set up to stabilise clubs and eliminate the danger of their ceasing to exist when an interested priest or layman leaves a parish.
Each club will be affiliated with the newly-formed Westminster Catholic Youth Association. la ith Archbishop *Heenan as president, and also with the National Council of Catholic Youth Clubs.
Part-time courses for youth leaders will be started at the Westminster Cathedral club, which is run by Fr. Arrowsmith. This club will also he set up as an advice centre for all the others. so that they can work as a unit.
Fr. Arrovssrnith intends to make a census of all the clubs in Westminster, and to discuss problems with each youth leader and parish priest. Club facilities m ill he improved so that each one will eventually provide "everything that the norld provides, and attractively". "Youth IA oil must be seen as an apostolate." Fr. Arrowsmith said. "We have a mission to young people and the club should not simply be a street corner with a roof on it.
"We have to bring our Christian and Catholic principles into their world. We can start to do this in properly run and well-organised clubs that appeal to them."
Because of their "marvellous education" young people today were far ahead of their older counterparts in other generations, and had in effect been cut off from the rest of the adult population, Fr. Arroasmith said. Boys or girls of 18 were treated as children although they were as mature as the 23-yearolds of 20 years ago. "If we have an apostolate we cannot build the field of this apostolate to suit ourselves. We must take young people as we find them and work from there. If they want to v,ear jeans and peculiar make-up it should not matter. it's the fashion, and its not for us to dictate how people dress." Fr. Arrowsmith stressed that every club should accept nonCatholics as members. "If we have anything to fear from mixing with non-Catholics then there must be something wrong with us, not them," he added.
Parish priests must be prepared to work in close liaison with their clubs. They must advise and guide them as part of the aposiolate, and consider youth clubs as part of young people's education.
The clubs in Westminster will be affiliated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Young Christian Workers, and national clubs like the French and Sy, iss clubs. An effort will also be made to establish contact with Catholic clubs sshich are unattached to parishes.