The Most Reverend George V. Murry, S.J.,
bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown
has been diagnosed with a form of acute leukemia.
He was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic on Sunday, April 29, 2018.
He will undergo intensive chemo therapy for the next four weeks.
The Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have stated
that there are to be no visitors.
Please keep Bishop Murry in your prayers.
There is also a Facebook group set up of those praying for him on that social media site:
The Diocesan offices of Evangelization and Lay Ministry, Continuing Education of Priests, Permanent Diaconate, Pro-Life, Marriage and Family, Religious Education and Youth & Young Adult Ministry, with a grant from Catholic Extension, sponsored two days of "Innovation Labs" on April 25 and 26.
Over one hundred parents leaders participated in these workshop days that included instruction and suggestions by John Roberto. John is the President of Lifelong Faith Associates and consultant to churches and national organizations. He conducts workshops and teaches courses on faith formation. John has authored and co-authored numerous publications. He was the creator and project coordinator of the Generations of Faith project (which brought him to the diocese of Youngstown a few times in the past), and he is the founder and first director of the Center for (Youth) Ministry Development. He is a visionary, popular speaker, and more importantly here, an innovator!
Day one focused on "Digitally Enabled Faith Formation" which discussed tools, methods and resources for outreach to all generations. Parish leaders were then challenged to create ways to utilize them in their faith formation efforts. It was exciting to hear how a few parishes are already taking advantage of free and inexpensive platforms for spreading the Good News digitally, and to see what new ideas were beginning to form!
Day two focused on placing "Families at the Center of Faith Formation" which encourages parish leaders to design and implement strategies to create new and enhanced programming that engages families at home, in the community and even at home!
These workshops will be followed up with two webinar discussions to provide further ideas and resources as the parishes move forward with the plans. One will take place in about 6 - 8 from now, and the second will be about two months later.
This means an exciting spring and summer of planning for our parish leaders, and the diocesan offices that support them! I am sure you will begin to see some small changes soon, with new programs, activities, or ways of doing things soon to follow!
For those leaders that participated,
I would love to read about some of your insights and ideas
in the comments below.
Readers, look for additional information following the webinar-meetings!
Keep these parish leaders in your prayers as they discern the best ways to integrate this information to be of service best for your community!
And, if you would like to see additional photos from the Innovation Labs, visit the
"Event Pictures" page of this website:
The next question posed in the Preparatory Document for the 2018 Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment was:
How do schools and universities or other educational institutions (civil or ecclesial) contribute to young people’s formation in vocational discernment?
Our summary of responses was:
The major topics of response from parents/families and staff of parishes and schools as to how educational institutions contribute to young people’s formation in vocational discernment centered on positive interactions of adults with young people. The most cited answers were:
Specific people were mentioned as important in addressing vocational discernment, including guest speakers (11), and school staff (7).
The importance of young people having contact with priests and religious was also highlighted (11).
Prayer (8) and retreats (8) were leading suggestions for faithful discernment, and the importance of God was mentioned by 6 people. Six people also brought up the issue of faith and morals being excluded from public schools.
Three people mentioned the importance of volunteering and serving in discerning a vocation.
The Office of Vocations provides professionally developed lesson plans and activities available for Catholic grade schools, junior high schools, high schools, CCD programs and youth ministry programs.
The curriculum for catechesis includes elements of discernment and this is realized though parish youth ministries, Kairos retreat, and young adult retreats in addition to Catholic School and Parish CCD programs.
The Office of Vocations encourages field trips for junior high and high school students to seminaries in order to experience the life of the seminary. In addition the Office of Vocations also offer vocation talks by priests, seminarians, and religious for school classroom sessions, CCD programs, and youth ministry meetings.
On the university level, campus ministry programs offer vocation talks, discernment groups, and mission trips that include discernment. At our Catholic University (Walsh), a house of discernment has been established to help young men discern while at college (more information is in the final section of this report).
1. Did anything above affirm or challenge you?
2. As an adult, looking back, how were schools and educational institutions instrumental in your own vocational discernment?
3. As a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, how have your observed schools and educational institutions supporting the vocational discernment of young people today?
4. What might you suggest to your local campus minister, department director, PTA/H&SA, or school administration to increase opportunities?
Take a moment to pray for those who journey with our young people during this middle school, high school and college years. May God give them the strength and courage to guide our young people along the paths to which God has called them!
Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment
During March 19-24, 2018, more than 300 young representatives from around the world (including 5 from the USA) convened in Rome at the inaugural Pre-Synodal Meeting of Young People.
Over the course of the week, the representatives took part in large-group and small language-group discussions, and responded to fifteen questions.
Their answers were synthesized into one final document, and will be incorporated into the Instrumentum Laboris (Working Document), the basis for the Synod Fathers’ deliberations in October.
Read this document posted at:
> What insights might you take from this document for your local community?
> Did anything surprise you in reading this document?
> Did you find anything in this document to affirm your current faith community efforts?
(Diocesan News Release)
All young people ages 16 – 29, (Catholic and non-Catholics alike)
have been invited to participate via social media with a gathering in Rome March 19 – 24, 2018.
315 young people (including 5 from the United States) will be travelling to Rome for a Pre-Synodal Meeting for an “opportunity for young people to produce a document, which expresses their view on the state of things, their ideas, their feelings and their recommendations, to be presented to the bishops and cardinals who will meet in October 2018 with Pope Francis to treat the topic: ”Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.’”
Young people from all around the world, however, can also participate by responding to 15 Hashtags using their social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.) which are listed online at:
Please help us to extend this invitation to young people ages 16 – 29.
For more information, please contact Cindee Case, Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry, by phone: 330-744-8451 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Information has also been posted at: https://youngstownoyyam.weebly.com/synod-on-youth-2018.html
On March 1st, Tom East, Director of the Center for Ministry Development facilitated a one day training in Ravenna for about 25 parish and campus ministry leaders on Accompanying Youth on their Journey of Faith and Discernment.
After an opening prayer, we discussed the concept of accompaniment. We have to let go of preconceived frameworks for our ministries with young people, including our tendency to wait for the teens to come to our programs... we have to change our perspective.
When we read the Emmaus story (Luke 24: 13 - 35), notice that Christ LISTENED first to the travelers and allowed them to share their disappointments and hopes. He walked along side them and listened.
How can we better listen without judgement and walk along side the young people of our community? (We can also notice that Jesus was not waiting in a temple... he joined the travelers on the road...)
Mr. East reminded us that we are to reach out to all the young people of the parish community (and geography), not just those who show up at Mass and programs, and not even only those that have been Baptized.
One key to this ministry of accompaniment is to recognize that God is already part of each young people's life, since conception. We need to talk with them about the conversation God has been having in his/her life... they may need help recognizing it in themselves, and to see how God is at work in their daily lives, but we seldom "bring them to Christ" as Christ is and has been with them!
Tom shared many tools for accompanying, transforming our programs, and becoming a faith companion. It is important for parents, grandparents, godparents, catechists, teachers, youth ministers, coaches, group leaders, Confirmation sponsors, and even peers to take time to pray, connect, listen, empathize, care, and witness with young people.
The second session of the workshop was regarding ways to guide youth in discernment. One of the many resources shared on this topic was a "Simple Three-Minute Ignation Method" that can be used every day:
1. Spend the first minute thanking God the Father for all the blessings received that day.
2. Spend the second minute reviewing your failings and ask Jesus the Son for forgiveness.
3. In the final minute, ask the Holy Spirit for the strength and courage to live a better tomorrow.
One of the biggest differences we can make in the lives of young people is to foster a habit of daily prayer. Workshop participants were challenged to brainstorm ways to help youth pray. We also shared resources that can help. A great example that was shared was of a young man who set 4 alarms on his cell phone to remind him when the phone vibrated to pray.
Tom also shared ideas on breaking open the Synod Preparatory document, which can be found online at:
The key questions include:
> What should we do to transform our ministries using accompaniment as a model?
> What should we stop doing?
> What are some ways to encourage the faith community in walking with youth?
To learn more about the Center for Ministry Development,
visit their website at:
To read a blog post by Tom East on this topic, visit:
If you participated in the workshop, please comment below with any additional insights, ideas or strategies that you noted during the day!
The Synod Questionaire asks:
How are families and communities involved in the
vocational discernment of young people?
Parents/family and staff of parishes and schools overwhelmingly responded with the importance of communication in fostering vocation discernment of young people, including:
The importance of family and parents in the process was often cited (27).
Similarly, the importance of leading by example (14), positive role models (6),
and mentors (5) were listed as necessary support for youth.
Other responses included:
Only seven people mentioned discernment,
indicating that a better jobs need to be done to educate parents and families
about the importance of discerning in everyday life.
"Has your family discussed religious vocations to the priesthood or religious life?"
The Teens Said:
The young adults said:
Parents/family members said:
> What implications might these findings have for your ministry efforts?
> What resources are already provided to parents in the area of vocational
discernment and discussion?
> What encouragement does your parish provide to parents in this regard?
The Synod question asked was:
How and in what manner is contact made with young people who do not frequent Church surroundings?
From the surveys of parents/families and staff at parish and school, the most cited way to make contact with young people was through invitation (56). Within this answer, many people specified that personal invitation was best (28), while a significant number stated the importance of peers inviting their friends (21). Social media was also a common suggestion (21).
Many responses including having more programs, activities, events, or socials, only specifying that they be fun and engaging and offer youth a wide selection. Specific elements mentioned were music (7), food (6), and sports (5). Social justice and service were mentioned by 20 people as a way to reach out to youth.
Other responses include:
How does your parish reach out to teens?
How does your parish reach out to young adults?
How do you prepare your parishioners to provide hospitality
and invite others to participate in Church activities?
(If you do have an answer to this question,
does that include preparing teens and young adults to evangelize as well?)
What do young people really ask of the Church in your diocese today?
In asking high school and young adult youth directly what they would like the Church to offer them, the overwhelming response was that they want more!
The most common response was for more activities to help them grow in their faith (23), including opportunities to learn about aspects of the faith or to experience retreats. An equally occurring response was for more activities of fellowship and fun (23).
Related was the call for true community, with the call for groups that are supportive, honest, accepting, and relatable (16).
Fourteen youth mentioned Mass in what they want the Church to offer.
However, the specific comments about Mass were divergent.
Nine suggested making Mass more engaging in general, or specifically through music or participation in liturgical ministries.
There were also 3 suggestions for a separate Mass for young people.
Two young people suggested more solemn and reverent Mass.
Ten youth suggested allowing for more input and suggestions from youth as well as youth leadership.
Responses also indicated service opportunities (8) and opportunities to learn about vocations (3).
The surveys also included an open ended question about what they would like to share with Pope Francis. Suggestions for Pope Francis included:
Considering this quick snapshot of what some teens and young adults
are asking of the Church in the Diocese of Youngstown,
what AFFIRMS your ministry efforts?
What challenges you?
Summary of the Synod Process
In November, Cardinal DiNardo shared the following summary of the Synod process on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” This was presented to his brother bishops at their general assembly meeting based on the work and findings that had been conducted over the last few months.
This video was shared on the World Youth Day USA Facebook page.
Please take a few minutes to watch/listen to the video. It is about nine minutes long. There was some great information garnered from the work many of you did.
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.