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!
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, email@example.com
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!
Things to Pack as a
Mission Trip Group Leader
Ideas from fellow youth ministers
for your consideration
(After reviewing this list,
please comment with anything
you would ADD to the list!)
First Aid Related
Recreational items (depending on your facilities and free time)
(Note: This is posted on the Justice and Service Page of this website
for reference as well… but I will take any of the comments made
to this blog post with additional items to the list...
thanks for help making it a better resource to use in the future!)
Best wishes for a blessed and safe Mission/Service Experience!
Much of the news about the Catholic Church for the past month
has been discouraging, hurtful, disappointing, horrifying,
and (insert a long list of other negative emotions)....
it can become almost too much
and we may be tempted to lose hope....
Those with whom we minister may also be losing hope.
In many schools of psychology, it is taught that we must first admit our current feelings and work through them towards the end goal, or what it is that gives us hope. For the Church, we have the Eucharist, the Sacraments and Liturgy to remind us of the hope that is Jesus our Christ. We must work through these hard times, but keep our hearts fixed on our Triune God.
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after: that I may dwell
in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
(Psalm 27: 4 - 5)
I am thankful for colleagues around Ohio and the United States that have been working on resources that we can use to help facilitate discussions with teens and our adult volunteers about the scandals. I am sharing a few with you - click on the buttons below to connect to the resources - and will be praying that you and those with whom you minister find them to be helpful. (If you happen upon others that you would recommend, please mention them in the COMMENTS to this post.)
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him, so that you may overflow
with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
English translation of August 20, 2018 Letter from Pope Francis:
Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God
"If one member suffers, all suffer together with it" ( 1 Cor12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to be pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain,
1. If one member suffers ...
In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as it happens, we have come to know the pain of many of the victims. We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; These wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to solve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side I have stands. Mary's song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: "I have scattered the proud in their conceit; I have cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty "(Lk 1: 51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and we continue to deny, the words we recite.
With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I made my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross for Good Friday 2005, I identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: "How much filth there is in the Church, and Even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ's betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart.
Kyrie eleison - Lord, save us! ( Mt 8:25) "(Ninth Station).
2. ... all suffer together with it
The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires to come with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf.Evangelii Gaudium , 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for 'even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light' ( 2 Cor 11:14) "( Gaudete et Exsultate , 165). Saint Paul's exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all of our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: "Am I my brother's keeper?" ( Gen 4: 9).
I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.
Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: "If we have truly started out from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see it especially in the faces of those with whom I have wished to be identified" ( Novo Millennio Ineunte , 49 ). To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire faithful faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting , following the Lord's command. 1 This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says "never again" to every form of abuse.
It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God's People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives. 2This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church's authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and consciousness have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that "not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people". 3 Clericalism, if fostered by priests themselves or by persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say "no" to abuse is to say an emphatic "no" to all forms of clericalism.
It is always helpful to remember that "in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people "( Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil is that you have given many lives to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within. Without the active participation of all the Church's members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change. The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God's People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. For "whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today's world "(Evangelii Gaudium , 11).
It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us be forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of without help us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and the us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.
Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people's sufferings and overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.
In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be "a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race" ( Lumen Gentium , 1).
"If one member suffers, all suffer together with it," said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son's cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus' side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, "to insist more upon prayer," seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.
May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.
Vatican City, 20 August 2018
1 "But this kind [of demon] does not come out except by prayer and fasting" ( Mt 17:21).
2 Cf. Letter to the Pilgrim People of God in Chile (May 31, 2018).
3 Letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (19 March 2016).
[01246-EN.01] [Original text: Spanish]
See original at:
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee,
the professor went to the kitchen
and returned with a large pot of coffee
and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal,
some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite -
elling them to help themselves to the coffee.
After all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:
"If you noticed,
all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up,
leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.
While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves,
that is the source of your problems and stress.
"Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.
In most cases, it's just more expensive
and in some cases even hides what we drink.
What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup,
but you consciously went for the best cups...
and then began eyeing each other's cups.
"Now consider this:
Life is the coffee,
and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups.
They are just tools to hold and contain life,
and the type of cup we have does not define
nor change the quality of life we live.
Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup,
we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us."
God brews the coffee, not the cups . . .
enjoy your coffee.
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!
At the Convocation of Catholic Leaders (July 1-4, 2017 in Orlando), I was honored to be one of the five delegates from the Diocese of Youngstown. The event included break- out sessions, one being "Youth on the Margins: Understanding Those Struggling with Depression, Suicide, Gangs and Discrimination." Obviously, the panel of speakers addressed each of those areas. They also discussed the opioid epidemic and how some of the heroin sold these days is immediately addicting. There is also an increase in reported anxiety issues with teens. It can be difficult to share the Joy of the Gospel (theme of the Convocation) when people are struggling to find joy in any area of their life!
In an interview with Antonio Spadaro SJ in August 2013,
Pope Francis said: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds."
As adults called to work with and for young people, we need to be available to assist as needed. In addition to just being available to LISTEN to a young person, here are a few suggestions:
1. Continue to pray for young people and their families, knowing that everyone is going through something or has a loved one that they worry about that is going through something. Pray that they have the strength they need to get through it and to rely on God.
A few Scriptures to consider in your prayer:
• “The Lord heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
• “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, thus declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:17).
• “Come to me, all who are heavy burdened...” (Matthew 11:28)
• “The news about [Jesus] spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:24).
2. Have a "Referral List" handy and updated.
To read more about how to create your list, see:
as well as an idea for helping parents connect for support:
3. Learn more about Pastoral Care so that you can better be of service. Once great option is called "Youth Mental Health First Aid." This is a quick course that covers the basics on identifying and working with youth who may experience anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders, suicidal tendencies, etc. It comes with a manual that you can keep on hand for reference over and over again. (Perhaps a good idea to reread a chapter each month as well as to have on hand as a certain situation arises.)
The diocese is looking into the possibility of hosting a training for parish ministers, but I also found that there is a FREE option offered by the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board. One training day is coming up on August 25th in Warren. The flyer can be found below. If you are unavailable that day, perhaps contact them for future dates.
What else might you add to this list?
Final thought, Pope Francis encourages us in taking the time necessary to journey with people as Church, "An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be." (Evaneglii Gaudium #24)
"Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties." (Evaneglii Gaudium #167)
resource by Kirk Bloir,
Program Director, Family and Consumer Sciences
posted at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5321
Whether for a few minutes or a few hours, all parents will face this dilemma:
Is my child old enough to stay home alone?
If you look to Ohio's state or local laws, you won't find a minimum age specified.
Instead, the Ohio Revised Code says that parents are responsible for
providing adequate and proper supervision and care for their children.
So, the real question isn't so much one of age, but one of your child's maturity,
readiness, and your ability to plan for safety, emergencies, and activities.
Parents need to look at their child's maturity and readiness in three broad areas.
Can your child lock and unlock the doors and windows; use the telephone;
and operate appliances safely (such as a can opener, microwave, toaster oven, stove top)?
Your child must be able to read and take a written message; follow and
give directions; and understand and describe house rules and safety/emergency procedures.
Your child needs to feel good about being left home alone; feel confident In his/her
ability to take care of him/herself; and be comfortable with limited social interaction.
Take cues from your child. If he/she says he/she is afraid, lonely, or unsure of his/her
ability to stay home alone, he/she is not ready.
Once you believe your child is ready, create a plan.
Begin by talking with your child about the possibility of staying home alone.
Ask if he/she would like to stay home alone. If not, don't force the issue.
If yes, then do the following.
There is no magic age at which children can stay home alone.
What matters most is
(1) whether they are mature enough,
(2) they know how to respond in emergency situations, and
(3) they are willing to follow directions and rules.
If your children are not comfortably self-sufficient in your absence,
they are not ready to stay home alone.
As I began to write a blog post about the October 2018 Synod on "Youth, faith and vocational discernment," I saw that CMD beat me to is, so I will share their thoughts:
What do you think?
By the way, those of you on my YM email list should have received the link with the Letter to Youth from the Holy Father. Thank you for sharing that with teens. Here is it again, in case you missed it:
The Preparatory Document (Click for Inglese for English!)
Please indicate, where possible, the source of the statistics and make reference to the year. Other pertinent information can be attached to better understand the situation in various countries.
- Number of inhabitants in the country / countries and the birth rate.
- Number and percentage of young people (ages 16-29) in the country / countries.
- Number and percentage of Catholics in the country / countries.
- Average age (for the last 5 years) for marrying (distinguishing between men and women), for entering the seminary and the consecrated life (distinguishing between men and women).
- In the 16-29 age group, the percentage of students, workers (if possible specify the type of work), unemployed
These questions refer both to young people who take part in Church programmes, as well as those who do not take part or have no interest to participate.
1. In what manner does the Church listen to the lived situations of young people?
2. What are the main challenges and most significant opportunities for young people in your country / countries today?
3. What kinds and places of group gatherings of youth, institutionalized or otherwise, have a major success within the Church, and why?
4. What kinds and places of group gatherings of youth, institutionalized or otherwise, have a major success outside the Church, and why?
5. What do young people really ask of the Church in your country / countries today?
6. What possibilities for participation exist in your country / countries for young people to take part in the life of the ecclesial community?
7. How and in what manner is contact made with young people who do not frequent Church surroundings?
b) Pastoral Vocational Programmes for Young People
8. How are families and communities involved in the vocational discernment of young people?
9. How do schools and universities or other educational institutions (civil or ecclesial) contribute to young people’s formation in vocational discernment?
10. In what manner are you taking into account the cultural changes resulting from the development of the digital world?
11. How can World Youth Days or other national or international events become a part of ordinary pastoral practice?
12. In what manner is your diocese planning experiences for the pastoral vocational programme for young people?
c) Pastoral Care Workers with Young People
13. How much time and in what manner do clergy and other formators provide for personal spiritual guidance?
14. What initiatives and opportunities for formation are in place for those who provide pastoral vocational guidance?
15. What personal guidance is offered in seminaries?
d) Specific Questions According to Geographic Areas
a. How does your community care for young people who experience extreme violence (guerrilla warfare, gangs, prison, drug addiction, forced marriages) and accompany them in various ways in their life?
b. What formation is offered to support the engagement of young people in society and civil life, for the common good?
c. In a world which is greatly secularized, what pastoral activities are most effective for continuing the journey of faith after the Sacraments of Christian Initiation?
Sharing Activities1. List the main types of pastoral activity in accompaniment and vocational discernment in your present situation.
2. Choose three activities you consider the most interesting and relevant to share with the universal Church, and present it according to the following format (no more than one page for each experience).
a) Description: In a few sentences, roughly describe the activity. Who are the leading characters? How does the activity take place? Where? Etc.
b) Analysis: Evaluate the activity, even in layman’s terms, for a better understanding of the important elements: what are the goals? What is the theoretical basis? What are the most interesting insights? How have they developed? Etc.
c) Evaluation: What are the goals? If not achieved, why? Strengths and weaknesses? What are the consequences on the social, cultural and ecclesial levels? Why and in what way is the activity important / formative? etc.
While I cannot yet tell you how this information may be collected, please do start considering ways to collect the input at your local level.
This is such a great opportunity to LISTEN TO young people and to have them help build the Church for the future!
Prior to the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry, or NCCYM, in San Jose last month, I participated in a two-day "Youth Mental Health First Aid" training. (I am sure you will hear and see me reference this training a few times in the future!) One of the numerous ideas I noted was tis idea of a "Been There, Done That" box of index cards....
What you would do is to contact parents who have gone through some specific situation, issues or crisis,
and see if they would be open to talking with other parents from the parish or school who approach you to discuss that topic. (I'd also suggest you ask these kind, brave parents willing to discuss their situations to pray for any parent that does contact them... and perhaps pray WITH them!)
-- teens breaking curfew and how to deal with that in a healthy way
-- incarcerated youth
-- dealing with underage drinking
-- child diagnosed with a special need
-- kids who struggled through their divorce
-- custody issues
-- teens cutting school
(Start brain-storming as you reflect on questions parents ask you!
What a wonderful resource this box can be as you help connect people that support each other
and build community.)
Please be sure to keep this information confidential, but have them on hard for support.
Of course, you could keep this information on a spread sheet on your computer or tablet.
And, obviously, for anyone who needs professional help,
make that appropriate referral.
However, often, parents just need support --
someone to listen
someone who understands
and sometimes some ideas and advice.
This seemed like a great idea to share with you all as you approach Pastoral Care with youth and their families.
Let me know if you do this and how it works for you. Add any helpful tips in the comments below.
Here is a prayer from Loyola Press for Parents:
A Parent's Prayer Loving God,
You are the giver of all we possess,
the source of all of our blessings.
We thank and praise you.
Thank you for the gift of our children.
Help us to set boundaries for them,
and yet encourage them to explore.
Give us the strength and courage to treat
each day as a fresh start.
May our children come to know you, the one true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
May your Holy Spirit help them to grow
in faith, hope, and love,
so they may know peace, truth, and goodness.
May their ears hear your voice.
May their eyes see your presence in all things.
May their lips proclaim your word.
May their hearts be your dwelling place.
May their hands do works of charity.
May their feet walk in the way of Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Lord.
Cindee Case, MAPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.