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