E-mail: Roy Guzman
Our Catholic Youth Ministry Vision
"What is needed today is a Church which knows how to respond to the expectations of young people. Jesus wants to enter into dialogue with them and, through his body which is the Church, to propose the possibility of a choice which will require a commitment of their lives. As Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus, so the Church must become the traveling companion of young people ..." (Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 1995, Philippines) The Church must become the traveling companion of young people - and that's what we mean by youth ministry. If, indeed, "it takes an entire village to raise a child," then it certainly takes an entire Church to journey with young people as they grapple with the Good News and respond in discipleship. The National Catholic Conference of Bishops, in their 1997 document, Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, have identified three goals which provide direction for this ministry.
Our Youth Ministry ... it's about discipleship
The first goal of our youth ministry is "to empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today." (RTV 9). Young people are "searching for a noble adventure", a compelling and challenging vision of life, and a cause worth their commitment. They hunger to hear the Good News that finds response in discipleship. As their companions on this spiritual journey, some of the ways the Church fulfills this first goal of youth ministry is by ...
-- proclaiming the Good News of Jesus through witness and word to young people.
-- enabling young people to live as disciples through their involvement in service, ministry, and leadership opportunities.
-- providing young people the faith skills for discipleship.
Our Youth Ministry ... it's about connection
The second goal is "to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the faith community." (RTV 11). Young people have a hunger for connection, to be in relationship, and to really belong. Family, peers, school, youth serving organizations, and Church are primary connections for young people. Some of the ways the Church fulfills this second goal of youth ministry is by ...
-- being a 'youth friendly' community that welcomes young people, values their participation, and calls forth their gifts.
-- integrating young people into the liturgical, pastoral, and ministerial life of the parish community.
-- creating opportunities for young people to enter into healthy relationships of trust and respect with their peers and with adults.
-- promoting Catholic identity and religious literacy through programs of adolescent catechesis.
Our Youth Ministry ... it's about gifts and growth
The third goal of our youth ministry is "to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person." (RTV 15). Adolescence is an important time for mental, spiritual, social, and physical growth. Their experiences and relationships greatly impact their healthy and positive development. The Church strives to surround young people with the best possible external scaffolds - networks of caring relationships of family, school, peers, and other adults - while young people are developing their internal psychological and spiritual backbone - their values, life skills, commitments, and moral compass. The Church fulfills this third goal of youth ministry by ...
-- enabling young people to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.
-- actively supporting positive youth development and fostering healthy values and life skills.
-- supporting families of young people by providing resources, programs, and services.
-- providing opportunities to experience and express caring, service, and compassion for others.
Our Youth Ministry ... happens comprehensively
Our Youth ministry is more than programs and events. It is "the response of the Christian community to the needs of young people and the sharing of the unique gifts of youth with the larger community." (RTV 1). To be most effective, this is a ministry to, with, for, and by young people that involves their families, their parish community, and the larger community. At the heart of ministry with young people is the presence of caring, supportive relationships where youth experience the Good News in the flesh.
Our Youth Ministry ... it takes an entire Church
"This is what is needed: a Church for young people, which will know how to speak to their heart and enkindle, comfort, and inspire enthusiasm in it with the joy of the Gospel and the strength of the Eucharist; a Church which will know how to invite and welcome the person who seeks a purpose for which to commit his whole existence; a Church which is not afraid to require much, after having given much; which does not fear asking from young people the effort of a noble and authentic adventure, such as that of the following of the Gospel." (Pope John Paul II. 1995 World Day of Prayer for Vocations).