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!
As I began to write a blog post about the October 2018 Synod on "Youth, faith and vocational discernment," I saw that CMD beat me to is, so I will share their thoughts:
What do you think?
By the way, those of you on my YM email list should have received the link with the Letter to Youth from the Holy Father. Thank you for sharing that with teens. Here is it again, in case you missed it:
The Preparatory Document (Click for Inglese for English!)
Please indicate, where possible, the source of the statistics and make reference to the year. Other pertinent information can be attached to better understand the situation in various countries.
- Number of inhabitants in the country / countries and the birth rate.
- Number and percentage of young people (ages 16-29) in the country / countries.
- Number and percentage of Catholics in the country / countries.
- Average age (for the last 5 years) for marrying (distinguishing between men and women), for entering the seminary and the consecrated life (distinguishing between men and women).
- In the 16-29 age group, the percentage of students, workers (if possible specify the type of work), unemployed
These questions refer both to young people who take part in Church programmes, as well as those who do not take part or have no interest to participate.
1. In what manner does the Church listen to the lived situations of young people?
2. What are the main challenges and most significant opportunities for young people in your country / countries today?
3. What kinds and places of group gatherings of youth, institutionalized or otherwise, have a major success within the Church, and why?
4. What kinds and places of group gatherings of youth, institutionalized or otherwise, have a major success outside the Church, and why?
5. What do young people really ask of the Church in your country / countries today?
6. What possibilities for participation exist in your country / countries for young people to take part in the life of the ecclesial community?
7. How and in what manner is contact made with young people who do not frequent Church surroundings?
b) Pastoral Vocational Programmes for Young People
8. How are families and communities involved in the vocational discernment of young people?
9. How do schools and universities or other educational institutions (civil or ecclesial) contribute to young people’s formation in vocational discernment?
10. In what manner are you taking into account the cultural changes resulting from the development of the digital world?
11. How can World Youth Days or other national or international events become a part of ordinary pastoral practice?
12. In what manner is your diocese planning experiences for the pastoral vocational programme for young people?
c) Pastoral Care Workers with Young People
13. How much time and in what manner do clergy and other formators provide for personal spiritual guidance?
14. What initiatives and opportunities for formation are in place for those who provide pastoral vocational guidance?
15. What personal guidance is offered in seminaries?
d) Specific Questions According to Geographic Areas
a. How does your community care for young people who experience extreme violence (guerrilla warfare, gangs, prison, drug addiction, forced marriages) and accompany them in various ways in their life?
b. What formation is offered to support the engagement of young people in society and civil life, for the common good?
c. In a world which is greatly secularized, what pastoral activities are most effective for continuing the journey of faith after the Sacraments of Christian Initiation?
Sharing Activities1. List the main types of pastoral activity in accompaniment and vocational discernment in your present situation.
2. Choose three activities you consider the most interesting and relevant to share with the universal Church, and present it according to the following format (no more than one page for each experience).
a) Description: In a few sentences, roughly describe the activity. Who are the leading characters? How does the activity take place? Where? Etc.
b) Analysis: Evaluate the activity, even in layman’s terms, for a better understanding of the important elements: what are the goals? What is the theoretical basis? What are the most interesting insights? How have they developed? Etc.
c) Evaluation: What are the goals? If not achieved, why? Strengths and weaknesses? What are the consequences on the social, cultural and ecclesial levels? Why and in what way is the activity important / formative? etc.
While I cannot yet tell you how this information may be collected, please do start considering ways to collect the input at your local level.
This is such a great opportunity to LISTEN TO young people and to have them help build the Church for the future!
Prior to the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry, or NCCYM, in San Jose last month, I participated in a two-day "Youth Mental Health First Aid" training. (I am sure you will hear and see me reference this training a few times in the future!) One of the numerous ideas I noted was tis idea of a "Been There, Done That" box of index cards....
What you would do is to contact parents who have gone through some specific situation, issues or crisis,
and see if they would be open to talking with other parents from the parish or school who approach you to discuss that topic. (I'd also suggest you ask these kind, brave parents willing to discuss their situations to pray for any parent that does contact them... and perhaps pray WITH them!)
-- teens breaking curfew and how to deal with that in a healthy way
-- incarcerated youth
-- dealing with underage drinking
-- child diagnosed with a special need
-- kids who struggled through their divorce
-- custody issues
-- teens cutting school
(Start brain-storming as you reflect on questions parents ask you!
What a wonderful resource this box can be as you help connect people that support each other
and build community.)
Please be sure to keep this information confidential, but have them on hard for support.
Of course, you could keep this information on a spread sheet on your computer or tablet.
And, obviously, for anyone who needs professional help,
make that appropriate referral.
However, often, parents just need support --
someone to listen
someone who understands
and sometimes some ideas and advice.
This seemed like a great idea to share with you all as you approach Pastoral Care with youth and their families.
Let me know if you do this and how it works for you. Add any helpful tips in the comments below.
Here is a prayer from Loyola Press for Parents:
A Parent's Prayer Loving God,
You are the giver of all we possess,
the source of all of our blessings.
We thank and praise you.
Thank you for the gift of our children.
Help us to set boundaries for them,
and yet encourage them to explore.
Give us the strength and courage to treat
each day as a fresh start.
May our children come to know you, the one true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
May your Holy Spirit help them to grow
in faith, hope, and love,
so they may know peace, truth, and goodness.
May their ears hear your voice.
May their eyes see your presence in all things.
May their lips proclaim your word.
May their hearts be your dwelling place.
May their hands do works of charity.
May their feet walk in the way of Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Lord.
Remembering the reason of the season, and praying for you and your loved ones...
May God's presence be ever more evident in and through your life!
For those of you unable to read this article published on December 7, 2016 on LinkedIn at:
I am sharing this for your consideration and thoughts.
Today’s new insight comes from Sharon Galgay Ketcham: “Helping teenagers imagine how they might contribute to God’s redemptive movement in the world [unveils] their potential. When parents, youth pastors, and church leaders train their eyes to look beyond [society’s] ‘dominant problem narrative’ (that is, most teenagers are broken, deficient and in need of our help), to recognize teenage potential and provide a place in the church for teenagers to practice using their gifts – teenagers will find a meaningful purpose in the church.
“The busyness of teenagers is connected to the longing of adults to help problematized teenagers make it into adulthood. Imagine if we saw teenagers as Christ does: full of potential to join God’s purpose.”
I would add to see youth as Christ does means to recognize and affirm how teens are already engaged in God’s work in the world. I do not wonder that many young people are engaged in making a difference for good in their schools, their work places, their families, their circles of friends, in the local communities. Church leaders do not necessarily see it because all of this is taking place outside the Church. And teens may simply lack the religious language to explain it to us. But the Second Vatican Council affirms that “the laity ... make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can she become the salt of the earth” (Lumen Gentium, no. 33).
Now this is not to say that some young people are not experiencing problems or even crisis at this moment in their lives and they are in need genuine care. But adolescence itself is not a disease.
Ketcham proposes that we flip the script. What would the Church’s ministry with youth look like if it started from a place of affirmation? Teenagers are not a problem to be solved; they are the possibility for parents and youth ministers and church leaders to recognize how God is at work in the world… and perhaps, more importantly, at work in our lives.
[The quote is an extract from an interview with Sharon Galgay Ketcham, published in "The State of Youth Ministry", a report from Barna in partnership with Youth Specialties and YouthWorks, 2016.]
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.