— AMANDA CONNELLY explains how NET MINISTRIES hopes that its recently set-up branch in Scotland has big plans in the months and years ahead
Since the introduction of the Pope Benedict XVI Caritas Award in 2011-12, Scotland’s young Catholics have been afforded greater opportunity to bear testament to their Faith, and to be recognised for these efforts. An award that has been instrumental in promoting faith witness, it is apt that featured at this year’s Caritas Awards ceremony was NET Ministries—a worldwide organisation committed to encouraging young Catholics to embrace their faith and share the Gospel with and through young people. This year, NET Ministries embarks on its first year with its own Scottish division, NET Scotland.
Founded by Mark Berchem in 1981 in the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis, NET (National Evangelisation Teams) has seen more than 29,000 retreats sharing the Gospel message to over 1.7 million young Catholics around the world. Starting its humble, yet enthusiastic, beginnings with a team of 12 young people, they travelled across southern Minnesota in a van, carrying out a substantial 18 high school retreats over a three-week period. With the evangelisation retreats proving to be resounding success, three additional teams were instituted in Winona, North Dakota and South Dakota, and NET’s primary year-long missionary team was sent out on the road.
Deriving inspiration for both its name and work from St Mark and St Luke’s Gospels—“Come after me, I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17) and “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4)—NET Ministries has answered the call for growing demand and expanded to become the global movement it is today. Continuing its peer-lead mission to spread the Word of God with other young people across the world, it invites young Catholics to learn about their relationship with God and helps them to form their faith. It is truly international, with NET teams serving as far afield as Australia, Canada, Germany, Guam, Honduras, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Uganda and the United States.
The year 2015 marks the inaugural year of NET Scotland, having previously piloted two years of teams from NET Ireland. Whilst maintaining close ties with its Irish counterparts in training and team selection, the group is branching out as a charity in its own right, booking retreats and organising the teams’ ministry from its base in Clarkston, East Renfrewshire.
As Scotland becomes the latest addition to NET’s global community, Emily McNulty, full-time staff member at NET Scotland, speaks about the aims and work of the charity.
“We want to reignite the Catholic Faith in Scotland,” she said. “Our hope and our dream is that every person in Scotland would know the love of Jesus and know it personally.” Click here to read more
Knowing that the young people of Scotland have not been taught the authentic Catholic religion and are, therefore, in no position to “reignite the Catholic Faith in Scotland”, the question here is, will these “NET” groups do more harm than good, or will their “have a relationship with Jesus” approach perhaps encourage some young people to look more deeply into the truths of the Faith? Typical of these evangelism groups, their approach is very Protestant – separating Christ from His Church – and this latest “net ministry” has the very same Protestant feel about it. Not that the youngsters will realise that – they haven’t been taught the Faith themselves, so how can they possibly know that they are well and truly NOT going to “reignite the Catholic Faith” but the Modernist counterfeit version of it.
In summary, it seems to me like the blind are being sent out to lead the blind but what do you think?