On Monday, March 23rd,
Roy Petifils kindly offered some tips on Accompanying Families with Teens During this Time of Social Distancing through the NFCYM. Below are just a few notes that I jotted.... however, you can register to watch a recording by visiting:
Also, if you are reading this prior to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, you can participate in another webinar opportunity on the same topic. Visit: https://nfcym.org/resources/webinars/
All the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic equate to a TRAUMA for us, and many people are in shock.... perhaps the adults are having the harder time dealing with the shock.
We need to be real about the situation -
and acknowledge that they are/can be resilient
Offer encouragement and hope
Enjoy time with your kids!
Pray as a family
Have a routine for each day, but mix in some variety as well
Exercise - move - go for a walk
For graduating seniors:
Validate the disappointment, but then add perspective
Focus on next steps
Recognize that this will be "processed" over time
- perhaps a year or two
Find ways your can commemorate
Do not make false promises
For young people dealing with abuse, reading "You Can't Hurt Me" by David Goggins may help (be aware of adult language, but he shares his persona story of abuse and healing)
Help teens articulate their feelings/experiences
as Dr. Bob McCarty often states (based on Dr. Christian Smith's Study on Youth and Religion), teens are often experience rich but language poor.
For parents who are Essential services personnel:
Be upfront about your job with your child, sharing only what is appropriate to the level of the child
Highlight how you are being helpful/social hero
Give as much reality as necessary but make sure the child latches on to hope
ASK FOR HELP as needed, many family/friends/neighbors would love to feel like they can contribute, so ask!
When stressed, remember:
Roy has a number of free podcasts posted on his website for your reference: https://roypetitfils.com/
I invite others who were on the call, or who listen to the recording, to add more notes in the comments below....
Stay safe and remain faith-filled!
In mid-March 2020, it became obvious that as schools, Churches, stores, restaurants, and just about everything was closing down that people reacted in different ways. It reminded me of studying Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' book "On Death and Dying" that was later expanded to discuss grief. In many ways, the withdrawal from life-as-we-know-it was a loss, a death of sorts.... from what we planned our lives to be like, to a new and unknown existence. So, I decided to dig back out some of that information to see how it might help.
If you are unfamiliar, know that Kubler-Ross identified 5 stages of Grief
(note, these are my paraphrases for our worldview in ministry,
not the full psychology... you can read her book for more details):
1. DENIAL (and shock) - we are unable to truly comprehend the loss.
This is a grace at first, to give us a moment to be calm, perhaps numb,
as we begin to process the myriad of feelings.
2. ANGER - eventually, the anger about the loss bubbles up.
We begin to feel how unfair it is that this person/event/expectation
has been taken from you. You may yell at everyone, including God,
as you work through the anger.
3. BARGAINING - trying to imagine ways you could change something that
would erase the loss/bring the person back. A lot of "what ifs" race
through one's mind. We feel like we could have done something to have
avoided this loss.
4. DEPRESSION - realizing that the loss is real, and you cannot change it,
deep sadness settles in and we really mourn the loss.
5. ACCEPTANCE - we eventually start to get back to "normal" life (which is of course, different and we try to figure out the 'new normal' with the loss as part of our life.) While this loss hurts, I can go on with my life.
A couple of notes:
> Each person spends different amounts of time in each stages, but we do work through all of them (So, for example, Joe might be in denial for a day, then the next day moved through the next four stages..... Suzanne may spend a long time in Bargaining...)
> While they follow in order, we may go back and repeat stages before moving
(Steve might go between denial and anger for a while before moving on to bargaining)
> certain events or memories may send someone through the process again
I mention all this because, as we check-in with or teens and even their parents, we may find that they fall in one of the stages..... and they will move through them at different paces... but we can try to make sure we prepare ourselves to address and validate them no matter what they are feeling.... and recognize they may talk or act differently next time we check-in.
The image below lists a few typical emotions to each stage.
Use it to gauge your own reactions, and those of family if you like,
and keep in mind that every FEELING is valid....
ACTING on the feelings are where problems may occur.
So, allow ways to talk about the feelings to
help them not act out.
This is a tool that might be helpful to make sense of the variety of
feeling you'll hear teens/families express.
Our goal is to listen then gently guide them towards Acceptance,
as they are ready.
While whatever they are feeling right now is "current"
the early stages focus on the past,
which is unhealthy to stay in for too long.
Acceptance focuses on today and making plans for the future.
"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope."
As most of us are not licensed counselors,
this information is just a guideline to consider.
(Refer parents to consider counseling for anyone
who appears to be fighting clinical depression.)
Here is a random list of ideas I brainstormed of ways to help you as a Coordinator of Youth Ministry to spend your time NOT purchasing food, setting up tables/chairs, and other programmatic tasks for the next couple of weeks while we follow the pandemic prevention protocols:
1. Sort through old files - reorganize, recycle and toss!
2. Wipe down everything in your office with disinfectant so that you can keep healthy.
3. Read Christus Vivit (again)
Free online at: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20190325_christus-vivit.html
4. Pray... really, take some intentional time to pray, perhaps in your Church or chapel. Consider trying a prayer style that you do not typically pray.
5. Write out old fashioned cards/notes to your ministry team members and mail them.
6. Take time to plan out summer activities for your ministries.
7. Make videos or search for videos to share with your teens and their families to watch while they are home from school. (Share any good ones with fellow youth ministers at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/89462880376/ )
8. Take a day off to be with your family (like a snowless snow day!)
9. Complete any of the diocesan reports you may have forgotten to do (OK, I had to take the opportunity while I had it, right, I mean at least I didn't specifically say the Parish Youth Ministry Report or the Child Protection Compliance sheet, ha!)
10. Send your teens snail mail with some spiritual tips during this time off school.... and perhaps add a personal note to that they know the parish is thinking about them and cares for them!
11. Where possible/applicable, have one-on-one conversations with your pastor, parish leader, and colleagues just to get to know him/her better and learn more about his/her ministries and life! (We often seem too busy to do so, but now we may have time!)
12. Read (or reread) Evangelii Gaudium to remind yourself of the Joy of the Gospel, even in trying times
-- free online at: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html
13. Update your "Community Services List" (a Worksheet to assist with creating this list if you do not yet have one has been posted on: https://youngstownoyyam.weebly.com/helping-young-people-during-grief-or-tragedy.html
Call counselors in the area to see if you would like to add them to the list and if they are accepting new patients.
14. Pull out the Diocesan "Curriculum for Catechesis" and make sure you are covering all the high school objectives. See binder in your or DRE's or pastor's office, or check online at: https://youngstownoyyam.weebly.com/adolescent-catechesis.html
15. Review textbooks and resources you are not currently using but in which you may be interested (at this time the diocesan offices are open as usual, so you can call Carla for ideas or come to the library to look over some options.)
16. Prepare a list of social media posts for the next couple of months so that you have them ready to go when things get busy again.
17. Meet with fellow ministers in your region or area, if everyone is healthy and able, to really work on some collaborations and/or tweak current collaborations.
18. Bring Cindee lunch.
Ha, just joking, that was just to see if you were still reading.... however, see who in your parish really might NEED assistance. Invite a small group of folks (like young adults who often are seeking service opportunities) who can assist with meal service, or a trip to the store for RXs, food or supplies, or other tasks that high-risk parishioners might need taken care of during this time.
19. If most of your teens (or their parents) have tablets, computers and smart phones with video, audio and internet, host a virtual prayer meeting/Bible study/quick learning session... if you/your parish does not have paid accounts for virtual meetings, there are free options such as:
-- Zoom, can be up to 40 minutes free (unlimited time for one-to-one calls, if you want to touch base with one family at a time)
-- Facebook Live (but would be open to all with whom you are friends or who is part of the Group page you use)
-- Google Hangouts (through Google+, so people need to join that, then they say up to ten people, but I've found that once you get over 5, it freezes up)
-- Google Meet
(Note for many of these, there is also an option for some to just call in from any phone, so they may not see what is happening, but can hear and talk with the group!) -- Let me know of others!
20. Preview some of the videos and movies you have considered using for ministry, but haven't had time to watch... be sure to create discussion questions as you watch!
21. If you are not already a member of a national ministry group, look into a few to consider joining:
a. National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) as an Associate Member, https://nfcym.org/members/associate-membership/
b. National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), https://nccl.org/membership/
-- then contact Barbara Walko about joining through the diocesan package, firstname.lastname@example.org
c. National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM), https://nccl.org/membership/
22. Speaking of national organization, check out any archived webinars they offered that you may have missed, the NFCYM has several posted at:
23. Pull out copies of the Catholic Exponent that you had thought "I'll read that later" and actually read them now!
24. Check your desk and storage area to inventory then order any supplies on which you are running low.
25. Add to this list!
Seriously, post a "comment" below with more ideas that may be of assistance to our fellow youth ministers!
Oh, and wash your hands!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.