Virtual Youth Ministry
COVID-19 protocols moved us quickly to our homes and ended large gatherings. As we do not yet know when we may be safe and open to gather, God has blessed us with time to keep connected with teens and their parents using technology!
The following are just a few reminders and tips on doing this well.
(Feel free to add more ideas in the comments below.)
First, for all of these,
make sure you have an updated and revised-as-needed
"Permission for Direct Contact with Youth"
so you can follow the parent's wishes.
(You can find it in KEY FORMS on the
Coordinators page of this site)
1. Have a phone log of some sort - can be a spreadsheet on your computer or a paper-and-pen notebook. Have space to note:
- time (start and end)
- number called
- with whom you spoke
- notes abut the topics discussed
2. Consider writing a script before calling, even if it is just a basic check in, write down your questions and any announcements, resources or references you plan to share. Don't read the script like a robot, but it is good to have on hand to assist you should the teen or parent be quiet, and assured you will cover the same information with each call.
3. If it is safe and possible to make the calls from a parish phone, with other staffers or volunteers nearby, that is preferred. If not, make sure that your pastor/supervisor approves whatever phone line you will use and with what other adult will be nearby, and amend your
"Permission for Direct Contact with Youth" Form as needed.
4. Say a prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide your words and grant the call-receiver peace.
5. Call. Listen. Be reassuring.
Offer to pray for/with, if you feel comfortable.
Take notes in your call log.
EMAILS and SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
1. Use official parish accounts, or have permission from the pastor/supervisor for other accounts and amend your
"Permission for Direct Contact with Youth" Form as needed.
2. Always have at least one other adult connected with each communication/monitoring the account.
3. Try not to over do it (believe me, I struggle with this when I see many things I would like to share. I try to save some items to share on subsequent days. On Facebook and a few other social media, you can schedule out posts in advance.)
4. Be sure to follow up on any comments and questions posted, if you allow them.
5. Feel free to share posts from the Vatican.va, Pontifex, the USCCB, the Diocese of Youngstown, our Catholic Charities and other diocesan offices as they support your efforts.
6. Remember, you are sharing the Gospel in all that you post!
(Note: similar for Group Texting efforts!)
1. Use official parish accounts, or have permission from the pastor/supervisor for other accounts and amend your
"Permission for Direct Contact with Youth" Form as needed.
Currently, the diocese does not limit what platform you can use,
as we want you to work what works for you....
free options exist with FreeConferenceCall.com, Zoom, Google Meetings (Hangouts), and Facebook Live (to be done within a closed Group page, unless you just want to broadcast without interaction....
and paid options with Go To Meetings, Cisco WebEx, Flocknote, etc.
(Feel free to include others you use in the comments below.)
2. Always have at least one other adult participating (and two or more for each small group if you use a program in which you will be breaking them into small groups).
3. Prepare an outline (with scripting as needed) for the gathering - opening and closing prayer, ground-rules, discussion, activity, etc.
Preview any videos you plan to share.
Even if it is just a casual hangout while teens discuss homework or topics they wish, make sure faith is infused. I mean, we need to recognize God as part of all our experiences, especially in ministry.
4. Practice with the platform you will be using before your actual session so that you can see how features work and what PRIVACY settings you may want to enable.
5. Make event By Invitation Only -- not posted on parish website or public forum, unless you can secure the site and approve each participant. (If you haven't yet heard, some unfortunate individuals have been Zoom-bombing wherein they disrupt sessions and occasionally post inappropriate things in an open chat, post inappropriate images in open-screen-sharing, etc. thus the need for security.)
6. Pray before you begin that the Holy Spirit will guide you and touch the hearts of the participants.
7. Have any screens (prayers, videos, resources, images, etc.) ready to share before you begin.
8. Begin... RECORD the session if possible...
establish ground-rules (muting, respecting when other speak, etc.)...
be reassuring and faith-filled...
9. End on time - parents will appreciate it. You can always schedule another session if they want more time!
May our God bless you in special ways
as you explore new ways to minister to,
for and with our Young Church!
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?)
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!
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
have been working on a fantastic video series that we can use for FREE to help share the
elements of our Catholic Social Teachings.
The videos are brief (3 - 5 minutes each), beautiful and informative.
They have been posted on YouTube, so can be
easily shared via social media or used in classrooms/meetings.
Below, please find direct links to the first few videos,
and look for future videos (and additional resources) to be posted at:
Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
More on Rights and Responsibilities
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society -- in economics and politics, in law and policy -- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
More on Call to Family, Community, and Participation
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
More on Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
More on Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Care for God's Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
More on Care for God's Creation
We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers and sisters keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that if you want peace, work for justice.1 The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
More on Solidarity
> The Dignity of Work and the Rights of WorkersThe economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in Gods creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
More on Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
Descriptions shared from http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm - (c) USCCB
Did you happen to see the article from the Catholic News Service a few weeks back about the "Pokémon Go" phenomenon?
You can read it at:
Now that school is back in session, perhaps the traffic will slow down a bit with the Pokémon Go games that took the world by storm in July. However, there are some gamers still working towards "catching them all." So, what is your parish doing about it?
Are any PokeStops or Gyms set up on your parish property?
(You may need to talk to a youth or young adult playing and ask them to check for you.... many of the spots were assigned by the game or by players, so you may not have realized that could be why a bunch of folks are congregating in a section of your property!)
Why not take advantage of the locations by letting visitors know that they are welcome to become part of your faith community.... or that you are willing to answer any questions they may have about the Catholic faith... or that you are willing to pray for any intentions they may have...
Deacon Randy Smith in Massillon has talked with me about his planning to incorporate Pokémon Go at St. Joseph, and I've heard of a few other parishes considering it. I'd love to hear about what you do and how it went, so be sure to comment below to share your insights and ideas!
The Diocese of Green Bay's Office of the New Evangelization created a short guide to assist parishes, for what they have called Pokevangelization. I've linked it below for your convenience.
Ready.... Set.... GO!
Recently, a colleague shared the following Youth Night Outline with me and asked if it could be used at his parish. I told him, yes.... just line up objectives from the The Diocese of Youngstown Curriculum for Catechesis.
Using Scripture with Lectio Divina processing and praying the Apostle's Creed area always good things to do with youth!
With just a quick glance, I thought that the following objectives that could be covered within the session with a few tweaks:
After watching the video, you could also include
Look it over and tell me which other objectives you might include?
What would you do differently to make this session work better for the teens in your ministry setting? (Please use the COMMENT button to add your thoughts and ideas.)
Youth Night Acts of the Apostles
Purpose of the Night
This youth night is designed to give the teens a better knowledge and understanding of the Acts of the Apostles. Our Church is built upon the witness of these very first apostles and we can learn a lot from them. We can obviously learn about the development of church teaching, but more importantly, we can learn how to apply their witness into the witness of our lives.
Bible for each small group
Paper and pencils for each small group
Random items (see below in Preparation)
The environment for this night should depict the importance of witnessing, both by the apostles and saints, but also modern day witnesses. Display pictures around the room of apostles and saints. Also, include some signs with Scripture verses and quotes pertaining to witnessing. Also put up some pictures of witnesses today. These can be well known people, or simply just individuals in our everyday lives. At the front of the room, place an open Bible on a table and large cross with red cloth draped over it symbolizing the blood of the martyrs.
Snacks/fellowship time (20 minutes)
Before diving into the topic, have snacks or even a meal available for the youth as they arrive. Play fun music while youth are coming in. Allow them time to socialize with their friends as well as to meet any new people. Be sure to have yourself as well as any core team mingle among the kids and reach out especially to anyone who may be new. This time would also be a good time for any announcements as well as announcing any birthdays.
Small Group Skits (20 minutes)
Divide the youth into small groups. Gather a bunch of really random items and place the items at the front of the room. Examples of items can include stuffed animals, a role of tape, a golf club, or a coffee filter. Have a representative from each group select three items. Each group will act out the story of Pentecost found in Acts 2:1-4. They will have to incorporate their three items in some way in the skit. Also, each group will act out their skit in a different genre. Genres can include documentary, western, sci-fi, silent film, sitcom, talk show, news broadcast, musical, etc. Write the genres down on separate pieces of paper and have the groups each select one at random. Give the groups about 10 minutes to create their skits and then gather them back to present them.
Introduction of the Topic (5 minutes)
Transition the youth into the main space to begin the night. The youth minister will begin by introducing the topic of the Acts of the Apostles. Explain briefly the importance of the early apostles and their witness in the early church.
Proclamation verse: “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Opening Prayer (5 minutes)
Reading (Acts 1:6-9)
A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
Heavenly Father, We come before you this day in thanksgiving for the witness of the early Apostles. Lord, come into our hearts during this time that we might be inspired by their witness to live for you in our everyday lives. We ask this in your name. Amen.
(Optional) If you have a musician who can begin the night with a praise and worship song, that could be used as the opening prayer
Explanation Video: “Evidence” (5 minutes)
(This video can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPHe51B7Z00)
Teaching (10-15 minutes)
Choose a speaker to talk to your group about this topic and its importance in our lives. The speaker can be the youth minister, a core member, a parish priest or deacon, a guest speaker, or anyone who you feel may be qualified to speak on the topic. You can use the outline below to provide some thoughts for this talk.
Processing the video:
The importance of being a witness
- When watching this video, how did it make you feel? What was going through your head as this girl was on trial and what were your thoughts on the verdict? Can you relate to the video at all?
- Now obviously, it is not illegal to be Catholic in our country today. However, there are a number of obstacles that we face in our everyday lives that make it difficult to witness to our faith.
The witness of the Apostles
- In Acts 1:8, just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He stood before His apostles and said “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus makes a promise to His Apostles that they will receive the Holy Spirit and will become witnesses to the faith.
- In Acts 2:1-4, we read of the event of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles and inspires them to fearlessly go out and proclaim Christ to the world. The Acts of the Apostles gives us a glimpse into the mission of the apostles following in the footsteps of Christ.
- We hear a number of miraculous occurrences such as the conversion of 3000 people by the apostles right after Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter healing to crippled man (Acts 3), Philip converting the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), Paul restoring a dead man to life (Acts 20), as well as so many more things. On top of this, we also hear of so many stories of heroic virtue as the apostles stopped at no cost to follow the will of Christ which eventually lead to martyrdom for most.
Our own witness in our lives
- In our own lives, we can learn a lot from the apostles and can apply much of what they said and did in our very own life. It’s hard to be a witness. It’s hard to publicly stand up and follow Christ fully in the midst of everything that goes on. Often times, we can feel like we are on trial, just like in the video.
- However, Christ has commissioned us just as He commissioned His disciples. He speaks those same words to us that we find in Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Lord is with us and He freely gives us His Holy Spirit to inspire us to carry out His will. Let us not be afraid to listen to Him and witness to Him in our lives.
Small Groups (15-20 minutes)
Lectio Divina Each person in the group will receive a slip of paper with the Scripture passage below on it and a pencil. The group leader or one of the youths should read the passage aloud. Take about 30 seconds to silently think about it. Have it read again. Take about a minute to silently meditate upon it and encourage the group take notes or underline key words that might stick out. Have it read one final time and then begin to discuss.
Acts 1:6-8 – “When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Small Group Questions
o Was there a word or phrase from this passage that really stood out or jumped out to anyone?
o What is the meaning of this passage?
o What does Jesus mean when He says “you will be my witnesses”?
o How do His followers ultimately respond to that call of being a witness?
o In our lives, we all have the same call to go out and be witnesses in our everyday lives. What does it mean to witness to the faith?
o Jesus calls us to witness to our faith by leaving behind everything we have and spreading the gospel around the world. Some have taken this call quite literally and have become missionaries to foreign countries or other extreme callings. For those of us (the majority of Christians) who do not have this calling, how can we witness to the faith in everyday life?
o How can we be a witness in our school, on our sports teams, within our groups of friends, or within our families?
o Why is witnessing to the faith so important? What benefit is there for us?
o What are some practical ways in which we can witness to our faith today?
Teen Witness (5 minutes)
Gather the whole group back together and invite one of your youth, preferable an older one who is maybe a junior or a senior to share a brief personal witness on how their life has been impacted by the Lord and how they have been called to live out their faith. Meet with them ahead of time to go over their witness. While writing their witness, have them pray with Acts 1:8 to see how their own life can relate to that of the apostles.
Closing prayer (5 minutes)
If possible, transition the group into a separate space to close out the night. The ideal location would be in the church if available. Invite the youth to quietly make their way in and have a seat. The youth minister should take a minute to prayerfully recap the whole night. After the recap, take some time to enter into some silence and allow the youth to voice any intentions they have. Close with reciting the Apostles Creed:.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God,
the Father almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
By the way, did you know that the Curriculum can be found online
(you do not only have to view it in the office of your pastor of Director/Coordinator of Religious Education! You can download a copy or just view it online whenever you wish.)
I am looking forward to gathering with about 150 others on March 10, 2016 to preview a new movie that supposes what Jesus may have been like as a seven year old.
(If you are reading this post prior to this date, you can check for information on joining us at:
After that date, just look for the resources linked towards the end of this post.)
As the Gospel of Matthew chapter two ends, after hearing about the magi visiting baby Jesus, we read that Joseph received a dream that it was safe to return "home" so they set out from Eqypt to Nazareth. Then chapter three begins with John the Baptist preaching in the desert and Jesus approaching as a man.
What happened in between?
Luke adds one story of Jesus at age 12 preaching in the temple. Then, only these words before he appears before John the Baptist:
51 He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
52 And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man
Mark and John do not even discuss Jesus as a child.
So, what are we to think about Jesus and a child and a teen?
The Holy Spirit leaves that to us I suppose as the Church focuses on the importance of in incarnation (God becoming man as a boy born in Bethlehem), Jesus' ministry, and the Pascal Mystery.
But as humans, we may just wonder about the in between time....
Anne Rice did when she wrote the book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.
And now the book has been adapted as a movie entitled "The Young Messiah."
They describe it as follows:
Remaining true to the character of Jesus revealed in the Bible, The Young Messiah film is an inspirational story about the childhood of the Savior for the whole family.
When the mystery of Jesus’s divinity begins to unfold in His early years, He turns to His parents for answers. But Mary and Joseph, in an effort to protect their child, are afraid to reveal all they know. How do you explain the ways of the world to its Creator? How do you teach the Teacher? How do you help the Savior who came to save you?
Follow the young Messiah as He and His family take the dangerous journey from Egypt to Nazareth and on to Jerusalem—where His true identity and profound destiny are revealed.
I look forward to seeing what someone envisioned this time of growth, discovery, anguish, joy, family-time, relationships, and faith for Jesus. It will be interesting to see how someone imaged Mary and Joseph as parents.
I pray that the movie deepens an appreciation for the Holy Family and the wonder and awe for each family members acceptance of God's plan for their lives.
If it is done as well as I hear it is, we may be recommending that youth groups and/or families with teens get out to see the movie. There are already discussion guides available for your use at the parish or to share with families for home-catechesis.
Catholic Youth Study Guide/Lesson Plans:
Catholic Study Guide for Families with Youth
Discussion Guide (for adults)
Perhaps more will be added by the promotional company:
Even if you do not see this movie, it can be fun to pull some of the scripture reflections and discussion questions out for use in your youth and family ministry programs.
Lenten blessings to you as you reflect on Jesus in your own life.
May you continue to claim him as messiah (young or old or ageless!)
Looking for a way to support your teens at a time when they will be likely be open to Divine Inspiration?
Here is one: Pencils with Prayers - prepare a prayer before taking a test (like the one pictured) and add a new, sharpened and ready-to-go #2 pencil.
This would be great for your high school teens to do for the 8th graders in the Catholic school before high school placement tests, or have Confirmation students prepare for the high school students before any of their tests. Or have an adult club or ministry work on this for the teens. There are so many possibilities for getting people involved in preparing them! Then, for distribution, consider the options: going into the 8th grade classrooms, or distributing at youth ministry event, or have them in baskets after Mass for pick up as families leave.
If you have done this or something similar, please tell us about it in the comments.
I have had many discussions with youth ministers and those providing outreach with young adults about using Social Media. Those conversations though have seemed to focus on either how to get started or how to work on privacy issues and the Diocesan Child Protection Policy. Today, though, I'd like to just discuss a few positive practices for generally using Facebook and/or Twitter for your ministry(ies).
1. Find out from your target population (the teens, young adults, parents or larger parish community?) which they use and like. There is no sense setting up a Twitter account if no one will follow it. So, please ask key people in your target audience. If you find they use neither, ask what they do use. Perhaps your area isn't as in to Social Media, then you can stop reading this article! Or, perhaps they are using a lesser popular platform, They can teach you how to use it! You may also find they use both. Please know it is fairly easy to link your Twitter to your Facebook page (as a "person" who accepts Friends, your tweets can post onto your Newsfeed.)
2. Select a profile or cover picture that "says" something about your ministry, parish or the Church season, and do not be afraid to change it up every so often as it shows movement on the page with a quick glance.
3. Images seem to drive social media these days, so it is good to include them.... just make sure that they are appropriate, are forwarded from a trusted group/person/entity, and that they only include youth whose parents have authorized it (via the diocesan form for Direct Contact with Minors or as specified on event permission forms.) If it is a Pulbic page, it is a good practice not to use the full names of minors. If you allow them to tag themselves, that is their decision, but you need not list them.
4. Videos are also images, so let me add that you should fully review any and all videos before you post them. Make sure the entire video (including bumper ads at the end) are consistent with Church teachings. Add a comment about why you are sharing it.
5. Post or Tweet regularly - not 100 times a day where you may annoy people, but at least a couple of times per week so that you keep in your friends/followers/likers newsfeed and notifications.
6. Do not be afraid to include catechetical moments, like forwarding Saint of the Day, readings of the day, reflections by theologians and Catholic authors, etc. Even with Twitter, you can make a brief comment then link to a site/video/page with deeper content.
7. When people comment, like or post, be sure to like or reply so that they know their presence was noticed.If someone posts something inappropriate or out of line with Catholic teaching, be sure to follow up with that person one-on-one to discuss it (and possibly why you had to remove the post/comment.)
8. If possible, have a team working on the social media or at least ask key members of your target audience to post and reply regularly so that it does not all fall to one person. And make sure that your pastor/supervisor is aware of your social media efforts, even if he/she isn't personally connected, they should be aware of this aspect of your ministry.
9. Include things that will help readers live lives of faith! That is the point, right? So just be sure not to forget that. While you may want to promote programs and services or build virtual relationships to strengthen face-to-face relationships, we are in ministry to help people see Jesus at work in their daily lives, so our social media efforts should support this!
"The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God." ~ Pope Francis, From the Vatican, 24 January 2014, the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales.
10. I'll leave this one to you...what would be one thing YOU would add to this list? (Post in the comments below). Since we are in this together and exploring this new world for evangelization, we learn from each other and support each other.
If you are not already connected with the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry social media, please do so. You can follow on Twitter:
and on Facebook, there is an office page to "like":
and groups for Youngstown Youth Ministers, DOY-YAM for young adults, and some program specific groups. Check them out or "friend" me at:
Want to read more about the Church and Digital Evangelization? Check out these resources:
1. "Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization."
Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Communications Day 2013
2. Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter
Pope Francis, Message for World Communications Day 2014
If you are looking for guidelines and information shared at diocesan conferences and trainings, look at the office page on Technology and Ministry:
THANKS to all who participated in the Massively Open Online Course (or MOOC) sponsored by the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministry Leaders (NACYML).
I hope you appreciated the time you took to read (or re-read) the Holy Father's "Joy of the Gospel" document....
that you learned a new idea through viewing the Expert Teacher Videos...
that you deepened your understanding via the live Panel Discussions (even if you watched the recorded versions!) and that you shared insights on a Networking Learning Community discussion board or two!
My appreciate goes out to Mr. Bob Barto who assisted with the Ohio Dioceses discussion boards. Below, please read his weekly summaries to give a glimpse as our discussions:
2015 NACYML MOOC Weekly Summaries for Ohio Dioceses Group
As we, hopefully, bring to a close a long cold winter here in Ohio we look forward to the joy of Easter, the joy of the good news. Our discussions challenged us to consider:
-do we radiate that joy?
-can we confidently invite others in the community into relationship with our youth
-looking at each challenge as unique, not same old same old.
-how, or have we, changed the way we do ministry
-it's a long journey of faith for all of us- if we expect the youth to want us on this road trip with them we better provide a vibrant soundtrack and not drag them down-
-the difference in how we sing our song of joy is captured beautifully in this video Cindee posted
-how “Happy” are we?
Ohio Dioceses week 2
Dr. Augustine's video led to a discussion regarding how to confidently move forward in ministering with, not to, our young people. The difficulty seems to lie in our reappropriating our definition of what relationship means. How do we incorporate the digital world and all its interactions? The challenge is for us to continue learning and growing and being able to set aside what worked in the past for what is needed now. I began my career as a teacher, and was trained how to work mimeograph machines and filmstrip projectors. But what was at the core of that training, trying to connect with students and convey information, remained constant as we moved into the digital age. Our joy of the gospel must be what drives us down the new road to Emmaus, as we remain alert for the directional signs the youth will provide.
week 3 ohio dioceses
The discussion in Ohio on week 3 focused upon the need to maintain, and develop, our own faith. In order to walk with the young people we will need to be able to explain why we are there. Intentional faith formation on our part will allow us to be someone that is welcome on the journey.
week 4 Ohio dioceses
During week 4 the members of the Ohio dioceses group that participated shared a variety of resources to help encounter that they had found helpful at their local level.
- inviting families and the parish community to make their own Advent Wreaths.
- making cards for the kids that have graduated and are in college or in the service
- making oragami boxes for Lent and give them out at Church
- having a movie night, and showing a movie on a sheet outside with pop and popcorn.
Ohio Dioceses week 5
As the MOOC draws to a close one of the important aspects of our ministry was pointed out to be the changing role we play as our youth transition to young adults. We need to be aware of how the Spirit is moving and directing not only the youth, but us. The Spirit moves where it will, we just need to let ourselves be moved with it.
WHAT INSIGHTS OR THOUGHTS MIGHT YOU ADD? (Please "comment" below with your additions -- thanks -- I appreciate continuing to grow and learn with you!)
And, now, on to the new and improved Youth Ministry Online Training Program....
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.