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!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.