NET Groups: Destined To Fail?

Casting the NET YOUTH GROUP  

— 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

Comment

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?

Catholicism & The Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014 – The Problem…

animated scots flagCelebrating the Gift in Sport

Pope Francis gives blessing to Glasgow conference

 Pope Francis has sent his good wishes and prayers to athletes and theologians gathering for a conference in Glasgow on the eve of the Commonwealth Games.

Sponsored by the Bishops Conference of Scotland, Celebrating the Gift in Sport will explore how sport and faith can combine to champion the gifts of each person – especially people with disabilities – while promoting values of solidarity and respect.

The conference takes place on Thursday 17 July (9.30am to 5pm) at Blessed John Duns Scotus church hall (Ballater St, Glasgow G5 0YT) in the Gorbals.

It will be opened by the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, who said: “With his message for our Conference, Pope Francis has shown himself close to all athletes and to everyone who enjoys sport as a means of celebrating the sheer joy of the gift of life and of promoting the dignity and potential of the human person.”

 The Archbishop added: “The Glasgow Commonwealth Games is an ideal opportunity for us to celebrate that gift and proclaim the dignity, respect and purpose that God bestows on all people, no matter their ability or nationality.”

Speakers at the conference include 2004 Olympic sprint relay champion Jason Gardener, Special Olympian Leanne Peter, paralympian Frank McGuire, former British Taekwondo champion-turned broadcaster John Cullen, Gordon McCormack chair of Scottish Disability Sport, and Professor John Swinton and Christina Gangemi of the Kairos Forum at the University of Aberdeen.

Members of the Cornerstone Community will tell how sport has changed their life, building up their confidence and providing opportunities to influence wider society.

Conference ticket (£40 per person) includes lunch – simply come along on the day and pay at the door

Programme of speakers and topics

Comment

The entire tone of the “Games” material coming from the Catholic Church in Glasgow is ecumenical. Check out the Programme of speakers and topics for the above conference, held yesterday, if you haven’t already done so. The problem, arguably, is that this major event, which will be reported not only across the UK but around the world, is an opportunity missed for the Catholic Church. There’s been  no conference organised to invite athletes, visitors, spectators, whoever, to come and learn about Catholicism, just some vague talk about celebrating “the Gift” in sport,  vaguely  linking “Faith” and sport. I’ve yet to be convinced that the Archdiocesan authorities mean “The Catholic Faith”, so, if you think you can do so, convince me!

Otherwise, share your ideas about how the Church might have used this event to spread knowledge and understanding of our Catholic religion.  Should the Church be engaging in some good old fashioned evangelisation during the next couple of weeks when the city of Glasgow will be alive with visitors from around the globe? If so, what sort of events could have been offered? Or is it enough just to have some kind of “Faith presence” in place?