The recent Trinity Conference, an online Catholic conference hosted by Leeds Trinity University and backed by both the Catholic Education Service (CES) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), was an opportunity to reflect on some of the biggest ethical and pastoral issues facing our young people in the digital sphere.
Opened by Archbishop John Wilson, former priest of the Diocese of Leeds and now Archbishop of Southwark, the second annual Trinity Conference saw a variety of topics covered by a range of different expert speakers as teachers, chaplains, clergy, parents and academics from all over the UK gathered for two days of high quality academic and practitioner-led contributions on the theme of …
A Catholic Response to the Digital Age
… and after the two-day online event, delegate feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with people describing it as ‘inspirational’, ‘informative’, and ‘phenomenal’! Congratulations to the Conference hosts and organisers including LTU’s Chaplaincy Co-ordinator Hannah Hayward and Chaplaincy Administrator Danielle Roman!
Day One began with an opening address from The Most Reverend John Wilson which laid out a theological framework for understanding digital communications.
Professor Jean Pierre Casey then spoke of the ethics of big data and the challenges to human freedom in a world of algorithms and data collection.
Jonathan Taylor from Online Safety 4 Schools led a session on Online Safeguarding.
Dr Tom Harrison from the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues shared his character-based approach to cultivating online virtue in our young people.
The online attendees also heard from Isaac Withers from Peter’s House on the profound relationship between social media and our young people’s mental health.
Day Two was more focussed on the missionary opportunity for the Church in a digital age.
There was inspiring input from the full time Lay Missionary Pippa Baker and from Director of Nottingham Diocesan Youth Service Tom Baptist on the importance of understanding the digital world that young people inhabit and being fearless in engaging that world in order to spread the gospel.
Dr Káren North from St Mary’s University in Twickenham shared her research on successful transmission of the faith to young adults, and what role digital media can play from that, given lessons learnt from the pandemic.
Ben Jones, CEO of Missional Generation shared some of his charity’s exciting Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality resources for schools/churches.
The Conference closed with a panel including Pippa Baker, Isaac Withers and The Right Rev John Arnold, the Bishop of Salford, who is also CBCEW Bishop for Communications.
One delegate commented on ‘an excellent variety of speakers from a wide and varied field of expertise, but all with the passion to encourage and accompany our children and young people to have live and have it in abundance. Thank you so much!’
Another said it was an ‘opportunity to step back and look at some big issues which will allow me to reflect on current practice – as teacher, catechist and mum!’
It is hoped that this conference will have provoked some important reflection and conversation on some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities for the Church’s mission to young people in a digital age.