Youngstown Synod Survey Insights, Part 2
What are the main challenges and most significant opportunities for young people in our Diocese today?
The challenges that young people face are many and varied. The most common challenges in general listed were social pressures, such as negative peer pressure (40), bullying (12), and anxiety (12), especially around subjects such as drugs and alcohol (33) and human sexuality (8). School was also listed as a common challenge (10). These responses were concentrated among the high school age youth.
For those in their late teens and 20s, the challenges shifted more so to challenges of finances (12), not being recognized as adults (9), jobs (5), relationships (5), lack of community (4) and finding one’s path in the world.
In the Church context, a lack of faith was cited most often as challenge to staying connected (23). Specific issues with the Church included that it was boring and non-engaging (26), more so for the high school teens, a lack of connection or belief in God (17), and the perception that the Church was too strict (16). Lack of support from parents and leaders contributed to this disconnect for many, as well not feeling part of the community. When stating why young people drift away from Church, a sizeable portion listed the parents’ lack of faith and practice (13), while many did not feel engaged or an important part of the community for Mass.
For the opportunities, the survey focused on the question of how young people are active in their parish. For those that took the survey, there were about 15 that indicated they were not active. The vast majority reported being active in at least some way, and many listed several ways they were involved. The most reported activities were:
· Liturgical ministries (65), such as altar serving, choir/music ministry, Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, lector;
· Volunteer and service (40), including parish volunteering and mission trips;
· Youth ministry programs and retreats (26);
· Catechetical roles (11).
Editor's note: I am excited to see that such a great number of young people who are engaged in the various ministries of the Church took time to complete the Synod Surveys. There were also a good number (about 8%) who completed the survey stating they were Catholic but not involved; they helped give insights though on challenges (which we in ministry know we can work to convert to opportunities!) Personal invitation remains key for our ministries, so be sure to continue to be on the look out for talents of interests of teens and young adults then connect them to ways to utilize those within our faith communities!
I attended Catholic school from mid-first grade through my freshmen year of high school
(St. Joseph in Cuyahoga Falls and St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron).
I cannot recall in which year
we had to memorize the Memorare, but I know that it was in grade school and
to this day, when someone begins the prayer,
my mind automatically continues on as the words are etched in my mind (perhaps even my heart, as that makes for a better prayer.)
While memorization is difficult for many (at least for me),
I do have to admit that it is nice to have some things ready to recite
at a moments notice! I have been able to pray the Memorare
(and MANY other prayers) in times of stress, anxiety, uncertainty
and even boredom.
Of course, as with many things in life, I will admit that I did not understand the prayer when I memorized it. Besides not knowing what implored or incarnate meant, as a child, I was fortunate to now have much need to "Fly" to her. However, as I lived a few more years,
I experienced more need for a feeling of protection,
I now wish that I'd had an opportunity to re-learn the prayer as a teen, with focus on a deeper understanding of what we were praying.,
Of remembering the need for God in my life,
and the gift of having Mary to pray with and for me to her Son.
Truly understanding that she will not give up on her children,
and will help us really can boost our "confidence" of faith!
With October being a month dedicated to Mary,
what is YOUR favorite Marian prayer?
(You can list it in the Comments section below.)
Seek ways to break this prayer open with the
teens and/or young adults with whom you serve.
Dig for that deeper understanding of memorized prayers
(and maybe even learn a new one!)
While you consider this,
why not pray the Memorare with me?
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help,
and sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother,
to you I come,
before you I stand sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate!
Despise not my petitions,
but, in your mercy, hear and answer me.
(Diocese of Youngstown Synod Surveys Summary, Part 1)
The Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Diocese of Youngstown created six distinct but related online surveys to gather information for the Synod as well as additional information to help guide the work of our local ministries. The surveys were intended for the following audiences (with the number of respondents for each category in parentheses):
· Catholic Youth of High School Age (123)
· Non-Catholic Youth of High School Age (7)
· Catholic Young Adults (101)
· Non-Catholic Young Adults (5)
· Parents/Families (170)
· Staff at parishes and schools (73)
The office sent the Preparatory Document with survey instructions to each pastor and Catholic High School Principal, emailed the survey links to contacts for youth ministry and directly to young adults, and used social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter) to publicize the surveys. The surveys were posted on the Diocesan website for three months over the summer. A total of 479 people responded to the surveys. In addition, seventeen people participated in listening sessions at their parish, for a total of 496 people providing input.
In addition to the input from these surveys, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and the Office of Vocations provided answers for some of the questions.
In an effort to highlight the direct experience of youth, these surveys were filtered to only include youth who are 16 to 29 years old, as defined by the Preparatory Document on page 8. A total of 155 responses were in this age range, consisting of 94 High School Youth and 61 Young Adults. The numbers throughout indicate direct responses. If people gave multiple responses to one question, their input was counted for each category of their response.
Synod Question 1:
In what manner does the Church listen to the lived situations of young people?
Unfortunately, a significant number of responses were negative, either that they were not aware of how the Church was listening or that the Church was not listening This was the case for 44 parents/families as well as 15 staff at parishes and schools.
A common positive response was there was youth ministry at the parish or listed some youth ministry activities (45), although few of these responses specifically mentioned listening to teens. There were ten responses of youth active in liturgical roles, but again not tied specifically to listening to youth. Eight responses included the participation of youth on Parish Council, which would imply listening to youth as one aspect.
Forty-one responses focused on a person that was working directly with the youth – youth minister, CCD teacher, priest, or other caring adults. In the building of relationships, key adults are able to connect with the youth on a personal level and listen to their concerns. Significantly, eleven people cited the pastor or priest as someone who listens to youth. Many people responded that the leadership of the parish was an important factor for assessing whether or not they felt the parish listened to youth.
In response to a question about what the Church should do for young people, ten youth stated that the Church should do a better job of listening to the input, suggestions, and opinions of young people. From the perspective of parents/families, staff at parishes and schools, and the youth themselves, the Church can do a better job of listening to the situation of young people. A sign of hope in this endeavor is the adults who are committed to ministry to young people, especially priests, youth ministers, CCD teachings and other caring adults.
Let us pause here to take a moment for prayer:
thank you for the gifts that young people bring to our Church -
We ask that you help all adults in the Church to take more time to listen to the youth, and pro-actively invite them to opportunities for engagement and discipleship.
We also thank you for the priests, youth ministers, campus ministers, catechists, mentors, coaches, and other caring adults who have taken the time to listen to and reach out to the young people. May they continue to do so and to inspire others to follow their example.
We ask all this in your holy name, amen!
At the Convocation of Catholic Leaders (July 1-4, 2017 in Orlando), I was honored to be one of the five delegates from the Diocese of Youngstown. The event included break- out sessions, one being "Youth on the Margins: Understanding Those Struggling with Depression, Suicide, Gangs and Discrimination." Obviously, the panel of speakers addressed each of those areas. They also discussed the opioid epidemic and how some of the heroin sold these days is immediately addicting. There is also an increase in reported anxiety issues with teens. It can be difficult to share the Joy of the Gospel (theme of the Convocation) when people are struggling to find joy in any area of their life!
In an interview with Antonio Spadaro SJ in August 2013,
Pope Francis said: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds."
As adults called to work with and for young people, we need to be available to assist as needed. In addition to just being available to LISTEN to a young person, here are a few suggestions:
1. Continue to pray for young people and their families, knowing that everyone is going through something or has a loved one that they worry about that is going through something. Pray that they have the strength they need to get through it and to rely on God.
A few Scriptures to consider in your prayer:
• “The Lord heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
• “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, thus declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:17).
• “Come to me, all who are heavy burdened...” (Matthew 11:28)
• “The news about [Jesus] spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:24).
2. Have a "Referral List" handy and updated.
To read more about how to create your list, see:
as well as an idea for helping parents connect for support:
3. Learn more about Pastoral Care so that you can better be of service. Once great option is called "Youth Mental Health First Aid." This is a quick course that covers the basics on identifying and working with youth who may experience anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders, suicidal tendencies, etc. It comes with a manual that you can keep on hand for reference over and over again. (Perhaps a good idea to reread a chapter each month as well as to have on hand as a certain situation arises.)
The diocese is looking into the possibility of hosting a training for parish ministers, but I also found that there is a FREE option offered by the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board. One training day is coming up on August 25th in Warren. The flyer can be found below. If you are unavailable that day, perhaps contact them for future dates.
What else might you add to this list?
Final thought, Pope Francis encourages us in taking the time necessary to journey with people as Church, "An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be." (Evaneglii Gaudium #24)
"Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties." (Evaneglii Gaudium #167)
On Saturday, July 1
in the Hyatt Regency Orlando,
a couple thousand Catholics gathered for
an Evening Marian Devotion
focused around Mary, Mother of Evangelization
as part of the Convocation of Catholic Leaders
organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Allow me to pause to say that despite my birthday falling on a Marian feast
(Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15),
and my name including a Marian-variation (Marie),
I have not found myself to have a strong Marian devotion.
Not that I have anything against this amazing woman who said YES to God,
gave birth to our Savior and raised Jesus;
I was just raised to believe that I can go directly to Christ with my prayers.
So I didn't "need" Mary as much.
Please do not judge me harshly as I share this only to admit that I may have considered
skipping this Saturday night event....
but I did go,
and I was so glad that I did.
It was a highlight of the Convocation for me.
I left inspired and faith-filled.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS of San Antonio and
Bishop Martin D. Holley, DD of Memphis
each shared their appreciation for and strong devotions to Mary that began during their childhoods,
nurtured them as they grew up and how she assist them now as they serve the Church.
They also discussed that Mary is called upon by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium:
"Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith toward a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn." ~ EG, no. 287.
We then prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary,
with an amazing couple of twists:
1. a myriad of languages were used to pray the Hail Mary, including English, French, Vietnamese, Igbo, Tagalog, Italian, Creole, Polish, Gaelic/Irish, and Spanish;
2. different styles of songs that connected to each Mystery were sung at the completion of each decade ("The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came," "Mary's Canticle," "What Child is This," "Mary's Song," and "El Perpetuo Socorro," along with "Immaculate Mary" at the end.)
The changing up of languages during the Hail Mary really made one pause and listen to the words,
rather than speeding through it as can happen in some recitations that I have been part of (and even led that way, as though there is a prize for finishing fastest!) and the songs assisted me in reflecting upon that Mystery.
All the while, different images of Mary were displayed on large screens in the room.
This helped to show the various ways in which people relate to the Holy Mother around the world,
and in the U.S.
Together, we prayed through the songs, prayers and images.
It was an inspiring and up-lifting evening that I wished you could have all been part of with us.
However, you can participate in spirit in the following ways:
1. Watch recordings of some parts of the evening devotion:
Part 1 (bishop's talks, Ave Maria)
Part 2 (praying the Rosary)
2. Pray the Special Prayer of Dedication to Mary taken from Evangelii Gaudium:
Mary, Virgin and Mother,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
Filled with Christ’s presence,
you brought joy to John the Baptist,
making him exult in the womb of his mother.
Brimming over with joy,
you sang of the great things done by God.
Standing at the foot of the cross
with unyielding faith,
you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,
and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit
so that the evangelizing Church might be born.
Obtain for us now a new ardor born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty
may reach every man and woman.
Virgin of listening and contemplation,
Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.
Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of our world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us.
May Mary, Star of the New Evangelization and Patroness of the Americas continue to pray for us!
"Synod Surveys" are being completed and the Input is interesting! (Still time to participate until August 15th)Read Now
While it is still early in the process,
I could not help but take a quick peek at how they are coming.
So far, Stark County has the most Catholic Youth Surveys in as
St. Thomas Aquinas High School was able to fit in some time before the end of the school year,
but about half of the young adults responding were from Mahoning County.
The Catholic teens listed the following as positive things that teens can offer our Church and/or society today:
time and money
ideas on welcoming
technology and social media
willingness to serve
A few non-Catholic teens added that youth can bring friends to Church with them,
and pray with their congregations.
Some of the challenges the Catholic teens noted were:
texting and driving
balancing school and extra-curriculars
not believing in God
distractions with technology
not enough sleep
anxiety and stress
making good choices
lack of parental guidance
lack of faith
The non-Catholic youth added:
not putting themselves out there
not going to Church often
and not staying motivated.
Catholic Young Adults (ages 19 - 30s) listed many of the same challenges as the teens did,
but also added things such as:
finding a good job
finding a place to get involved at Church
keeping the faith
older adults discounting our opinions
searching for meaning
and give me reasons to follow the Catholic rules.
The Young Adults add the following positive aspects they can add to Church and society in addition to those the teens listed:
service as lay ministers
modernized experience for teaching
examples of discipleship
zeal for the faith and sharing it with youth
love and peace
and Christian joy!
I am very much looking forward to reading more responses in August,
then processing the input not only for the Executive Summary for Bishop Murry to use with his brother bishops at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as they prepare for the Synod next year,
but also with our parishes, Catholic High Schools and other diocesan offices,
The survey results will have a wide-impact in the planning and priority-setting of the diocese.
THANK YOU to each and every person assisting with this --
either by completing a survey yourself if you fit into one of the survey groups,
or by inviting people to participate.
A special note of thanks to the parishes and schools who are also holing Listening Sessions.
May the discussions be fruitful and insightful!
And, with the recently-expanded survey time (now through August 15th),
there is still plenty of time to participate!
Perhaps you have heard on the news or read an article that mentions the "Rise of the Nones" in the United States (and many other countries as well) wherein there are more and more people drifting away from Churches. It can cause a person, especially a parent or a youth minister, to become depressed. However, instead of wringing our hands and giving in to despair, Pope Francis decided that we should take some time to LISTEN to young people and ask about their ideas on Faith and Vocations... and find out what they think the Catholic Church does well, as well as where we can improve!
Right, let's find out what is going on in our parish/school/Catholic organization?
What is going on in the Diocese of Youngstown?
What is the lived experience in the United States?
And, what should the universal Church be paying attention to and doing?
The "Preparatory Document for the 15th Ordinary General
Assembly of the Synod of Bishops" states:
"The Church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize
and accept the call to the fullness of life and love,
and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce
that Good News Today" (page 4).
To assist Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., Bishop of Youngstown in preparing his diocesan report,
the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry created 6 different surveys to collect input.
Parishes, Catholic High Schools and Catholic Institutions are asked to invite the following to participate:
1. Catholic teens (high school age)
2. Non-Catholic teens (high school age)
3. Catholic Young Adults (ages 19 - 30s)
4. Non-Catholic Young Adults (ages 19 - 30s)
5. Parents/Family members of teens and young adults
(soon to be available in Spanish as well as English)
6. Parish/School/Institution Leadership (a.k.a. parish staff, parish council, leadership council, faculty, etc.)
Surveys are linked through www.doy.org
(click on the Pope Francis Image)
Resources to help encourage participation are continually being added to:
and social media posts can be forwarded from the Y&YAM Facebook and Twitter feeds:
Like OY&YAM on Facebook: "Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Diocese of Youngstown"
Follow OY&YAM on Twitter: @YoungInYtown
As possible, holding a Listening Session Gathering can really help your local community capture input as well. For this, the planning guide spells out some steps one can take to host one,
discussion questions for small groups,
and you can then summarize your group answers and submit them to the diocese for further consideration.
Please pray for this process,
and continue to invite teens, young adults and parents to participate by JULY 31st.
Be sure to complete your own survey.
Then look for insights to be shared throughout the fall in our diocese!
What I like about being Catholic – By 2017 Eagle of the Cross Recipients
(Tweeted by the OY&YAM April 21 – June 7. To fit into the 140 character limit of Twitter, modest editing occurred with some entries)
During the Easter season, the OY&YAM shares what Eagle of the Cross recipients like about being Catholic. What do YOU like about our faith?
I like being Catholic as it is something we do as a family. (AJB, senior)
As a Catholic, I like the service opportunities provided through our diocese & the reassurance that God is with us every day~ (OC, 12th)
My faith strengthens me as a (Catholic) person! (RD, 12th grade)
The Catholic Church is like a home away form home; It's a fulfilling place with hope, love and faith (RE, 11th grade)
Everyday, I am given the opportunity (as a Catholic) to help others and share God with them (JF, 12th grade)
I like being part of a very large, centuries old, worldwide organization that is also a tight-knit community at the parish level (NES, 12th)
What I like about being Catholic is that there is always a choice to further your relationship with God (CAG, 11th grade)
I like being Catholic as I like receiving the body and blood (of Jesus) every Mass and I enjoy the fellowship in the Church (CJ, 12th grade)
What I like about being Catholic is being involved in the Church and having the opportunities to inspire people to turn to Christ (CK, 12th)
Going to Church is like being part of a community &/or family. You don't have to try to fit in; everyone accepts you & loves you (AM, 11th)
I like being Catholic as it gives me something to believe in and relate to (KMN, 11th grade)
I enjoy being part of a community & like that my Catholic faith provides a foundation upon which I can base all areas of my life (EEP, 12th)
I like being Catholic because of the love and acceptance (DJP, 12th grade)
What I like most about being Catholic us that we are all together in Jesus, the power of music, and prayer (MR, 12th grade)
As a Catholic, I receive grace from God through the Mass and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist (PRR, 12th grade)
I love being Catholic b/c of the Church's infallible teachings of truth, the graces of the sacraments... continues...(TR, 12th)
I love being Catholic b/c(continued)...the community & my relationship w/ God so that I might become a saint (TR, 12th grade)
I like being Catholic because it is the ultimate truth and stands up against the challenges of the modern world (CAR, 12th grade)
The best part about being Catholic is being part of the Church community & feeling united with Catholics all over the world (MAR, 12th)
I love the strong sense of community of the youth group; it could be your 1st or 100th time & they'll treat you like an old friend ~WJT3, 12
I like being Catholic because of the sense of community and knowing I am loved (EAM, 11th grade)
I like being Catholic because I love being able to experience and receive the Eucharist every week (KR, 12th grade)
I like being Catholic b/c it is a faith with great tradition & a dynamic faith which changes. It brings me closer to God & I love it! (FVS)
The Catholic Faith is the Truth; the Bible is the foundation of our faith. The sacraments & liturgy prove that God does exist & He became unified with us in His son Jesus Christ & the same God loves me & sees through my actions & is a forgiving entity! (DAT, 12th grade)
Which of these teens responses did you most appreciate?
How do YOU answer the question?
resource by Kirk Bloir,
Program Director, Family and Consumer Sciences
posted at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5321
Whether for a few minutes or a few hours, all parents will face this dilemma:
Is my child old enough to stay home alone?
If you look to Ohio's state or local laws, you won't find a minimum age specified.
Instead, the Ohio Revised Code says that parents are responsible for
providing adequate and proper supervision and care for their children.
So, the real question isn't so much one of age, but one of your child's maturity,
readiness, and your ability to plan for safety, emergencies, and activities.
Parents need to look at their child's maturity and readiness in three broad areas.
Can your child lock and unlock the doors and windows; use the telephone;
and operate appliances safely (such as a can opener, microwave, toaster oven, stove top)?
Your child must be able to read and take a written message; follow and
give directions; and understand and describe house rules and safety/emergency procedures.
Your child needs to feel good about being left home alone; feel confident In his/her
ability to take care of him/herself; and be comfortable with limited social interaction.
Take cues from your child. If he/she says he/she is afraid, lonely, or unsure of his/her
ability to stay home alone, he/she is not ready.
Once you believe your child is ready, create a plan.
Begin by talking with your child about the possibility of staying home alone.
Ask if he/she would like to stay home alone. If not, don't force the issue.
If yes, then do the following.
There is no magic age at which children can stay home alone.
What matters most is
(1) whether they are mature enough,
(2) they know how to respond in emergency situations, and
(3) they are willing to follow directions and rules.
If your children are not comfortably self-sufficient in your absence,
they are not ready to stay home alone.
During the Ash Wednesday 12:10 p.m. Mass homily at St. Columba Cathedral,
Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. began by sharing that the word Lent
Often springtime conjures images of cleaning out things after winter.
He then continued to talk about spiritually cleaning one's heart for a better relationship with God.
However, my mind veered off a bit to the meme seen above.
Many people on social media have been sharing this idea of physically cleaning things out
this Lent... to simplify your home but also to potentially assist those who may need things.
As a bit of a clutterbug (not quite up to the TV show "Hoarders" level, yet,
but I have the potential), this is an exhilarating and scary idea.
But, I am going to give it a try....
if not 40 large trash bags, then at least several bags and boxes.
I am also reminded of the Zelda Fitzgerald quote:
What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things
instead of using people and loving things.
While I do my best not to use people, I may have a tendency to love things,
as I was taught to treasure gifts from loved ones, and I place perhaps too much
emotion into items I own. Therefore, this might just make for a good Lenten practice for me,
as I will need to pray my way through it.
One prayer I will be praying is the Suscipe by St. Ignatius of Loyola
(proud of my Jesuit education):
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,
and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O lord, I return it.
All is Thine,
dispose of it wholly according to Thy will.
Give me Thy love and thy grace,
for this is sufficient for me.
(As one who grew up in the "Glory and Praise" era of Church music,
I often 'hear' this prayer in the musical form,
which if you are not familiar, I would encourage you to listen:
Please pray with me,
and perhaps join in me in this process of letting go.
Maybe in the giving of material things,
my heart will also let go of hurts, disappointments, or other feelings that
impede a joy-filled relationship with God?
May I be able to clean out all things that block God's love for me,
so that I can be open to a deeper Easter joy.
May your Lenten practices do the same for you!
Whoever confers benefits will be amply enriched,
and whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Whoever hoards grain, the people curse,
but blessings are on the head of one who distributes it!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.