By TERENCE McQUEEN A COMPLETELY new approach to the running of Youth Centres is recommended this week by two Catholic experts in this field. They are Fr. Vincent Whelan, Spiritual Director at Ushaw College, and Fr. Bernard Basset, S..1.
Their recommendations, contained in the new Catholic Social Guild Year Book "Youth and You" (published this weekend at 4s. 6d.) include: • .Youth Centres should be open seven nights a week.
• They should be open to allcorners and not confined to people from the parish.
• Their aim should not be to maintain order or keep teenagers out of mischief.
Described as "a simple, cunning book", built around an imaginary Youth Club, "Youth and You" slates:
"The life of the average young person today is no longer confined to parish limits and we must accept this fact or die. An exclusive parochial club may achieve success in certain circumstances, but a youth academy that serves the whole area will always run more rightly and robustly with emancipated schoolleavers who form the bulk of the leakage problem today."
The authors emphasise that the aim of Youth Centres should not be to maintain order or to keep teenager' out of mischief, "Those who work for youth must be educators, less concerned with premises than souls. Youth work is not reformatory but apostolic. It should seek to lead young people towards holiness. Holiness is here defined as a right relation with God or as "maturity and balaece".
Signposts for guiding youth club leaders are offered by the authors, with shrewd and pungent comment interspersed.
• A parish without an interest In its adolescents is as lopsided as a parish without school or hospital.
• Undoubtedly, the most persevering help and encouragement will always come from nuns. Convents give secretly, work quietly, pray unceasingly and rarely interfere.
• With the local clergy there is always the touchy point of parish boundaries; this mastered, priests, who all recognise the growing need for youth work, will give massive, generous support.
• A priest especially should accept the fact before he sets foot in the youth centre that he must be prepared for Our Lord's sake to waste his time. His first and only task in the first few months of a Youth Centre's life is to establish the right relationship with the young men and women who attend.
• Button-holing is no use; the hearty welcome is highly suspect, as is the attitude of "We're all young things together", • No youth centre's leaders' group will be effectively trained without use of the methods of Mgr. Cardijn, founder of the Y.C.W. Movement. His is a revolutionary approach. Every country that has tried it has produced remarkable results.