Does your parish do something to honor/congratulate/bless graduating high school seniors?
On May 8, 2019, I received a call from a parish wondering what gifts other parishes give to graduating high school seniors. We discussed a few ideas of which I was aware, but thought it was a good time to touch base with parish ministers to see what was currently done.
I am thankful for the Coordinators for Youth Ministry that responded to my Google Form survey.
Following is a summary of that input as received May 8 – 15.
25 parishes said YES, they do something to honor/congratulate/bless graduating high school seniors,
and 4 responded that they do not.
21 of the 25 stated they have a special blessing for the graduates at Mass,
13 at a specific Mass and
8 at every Mass on a specified weekend.
Most indicated they also have an Universal Prayer for the graduates,
some including all levels of graduates.
14 parishes have a reception,
10 offer breakfast/brunch
3 have light snacks
And one offers a dinner.
For these, 6 indicated the receptions were for the graduates and their families,
1 for graduates only and
5 were for the whole parish.
As for that question about gifts. 10 parishes do give gifts:
► Book (Bible, "How to Stay Catholic in College," Lean Into the Wind: How to Face the Future” by Fr. McKarns, prayer book)
► Prayer card
► Coffee mug with scripture quote
► Photo frame
► A cross
► A certificate
► A religious medal
► information on how to find the Newman center on their campus
(Note that a few parishes give more than one gift)
Other great ideas included:
- We have teens serve as liturgical ministers for a Mass
- We make a poster with pictures of all the graduates
- We take a group photo of the graduate and place it on the cover of a Church bulletin Any graduating teen who missed the Mass is asked to submit a senior picture to be included on the bulletin cover.
- Our parish offers three scholarships for education, materials and supplies
- Considering a retreat
- We make a bulletin insert celebrating the graduates
- We also host the Baccalaureate ceremony sponsored by the Conneaut Area Ministerial Association. Baccalaureate is the day before graduation is open to all seniors at Conneaut High School. We do have a light reception following the ceremony.
- We tell them we are proud of them
St. Thomas Aquinas school added that in addition to the Baccalaureate Mass that each Catholic School does in our diocese, they invite back those celebrating their 50th reunion to join them for Mass and a reception. They also have a blessing of the seniors at the last All School Mass of the year.
As you put the finishing on any graduation celebrations for your parish,
I hope these insights from other parishes are helpful.
Most importantly, continue to pray for these young people,
especially as they go off to college, the military, vocational training,
a gap year, or the work world.
May they be open to the Holy Spirit at work in their lives!
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:
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!
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
Youth Ministry Update
The Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry
Informing adults who minister to, by, with and for high school teens
in the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.
Cindee Case, Director
In this Edition:
> Faithful Citizenship Workshops next week
> DYC'16 Invitation period (Registration deadline October 19)
> Deadline for March for Life Youth Rally Ticket Requests
> Young Adult Activities
> 2017 events for which to plan ahead
If you did NOT receive a postcard from my office in the mail recently, then we do not have you in the diocesan database as a contact for youth ministry for your parish..... be sure to talk with your DRE or Pastor about updating the personnel report if you SHOULD be a primary contact for youth ministry there!
A copy is attached to this email FYI.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
There are only a few days left to register online for the upcoming Faithful Citizenship sessions on Wednesday, September 21st
(pick 1 - 4 p.m. in Canfield or 6 - 9 p.m. in Canton) -
click the link below or call 330-744-8451 ext. 302.
All interested in the political process and our Catholic faith are invited.
While the events are FREE, we do request preregistration to provide adequate materials and refreshments. Thank you!
“Mercy Begins with Me” DYC’16
Invitation Period now,
Registration period early October
As you should already be aware from a previous YM E-Update, participating in the Day of Prayer and Preparation, reading the September Communique' and/or receiving a phone call from one of the planning team members:
all the Diocesan Youth Convention 2016 Registration materials have been posted online at:
September is time to invite your high school teens and adult chaperones to participate (and maybe hold a fundraiser to help offset costs?)
Then in early October, you should be collected completed registration forms and payment so that you can check them for accuracy, make copies and send the originals on to the diocese before October 19th!
The planning team had a conference call with Ben Walther from OCP Spirit and Song who is excited to kick off the day with us at St. Michael in Canton, and Bishop Murry will end the say with us during a Conversation period and Closing Mass. In between, there will be ten workshop options from which to select and dozens of inter-active stations. We will also feature Mr. Mike's pasta dinner again (gluten-free for those who need.) Participants will each receive a string backpack, water bottle and convention materials. All this for only the cost of one day and $25. (Requests for financial assistance are due to the OY&YAM by next Friday.)
THANK YOU, group leaders, for helping organize a delegation from your faith community.... it is appreciated and hopefully you will see fruits of the effort born back in your communities after the DYC experience!
If you will be going to the Paul J Kim presentations at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on October 2 and your have your registrations ready, you can turn them in at the OY&YAM info table there ;-)
The Office of Pro-Life, Marriage and Family did a direct mailing to all parishes earlier this month with the information and request form for those wishing to get tickets for the March For Life Youth Rally in Washington, D.C.
Note; the deadline is September 30th.
If you have misplaced the information, you can find it posted at:
National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry (NCCYM)
December 1 - 3, 2016
in San Jose, CA
This brief video will give you a small overview of the conference:
It is time for YOU to take time to nourish your our mind, heart and spirit as you learn new skills or ideas to bring back to your parish, Catholic school or Catholic agency.
Find out more at:
We currently have a male from our diocese seeking a roommate for the conference.... let me know if you are going!
There will also be pre-conferences,
including the National Young Adult Ministry Leadership Forum.
Activities for Young Adults
are posted on a virtual calendar.
Please help us inform Catholics in their 20s and 30s of this:
They can "subscribe" which will email weekly noticed of upcoming events like Theology on Tap, Spirits and Spirituality, Marked by Faith and area retreats and conferences.
And please email all the pertinent info for any event you have for young adults around the diocese and I would be happy to share it on the Up To Calendar!
Planning ahead in 2017:
* Youth Ministers Epiphany Party
celebration, prayer and merriment for adults serving in youth ministries (spouses also welcome)
Friday, January 6, 2017
@ Cindee's house in Canfield
RSVP for the address, and share what side dish or dessert you'd like to bring to share....and if you will bring a wrapped White Elephant for the gift exchange game!
* Course 2: Cultivating a Culture of Encounter for Adolescents through Evangelization, Catechesis, and Faith Community
This course examines how to invite young people to faith and encounter by examining the processes and methods of evangelization and catechesis, as well as, the development of community among youth, their families, and the parish faith community. Register by December 16, 2016, if possible, due to Christmas break.
2A-Fundamentals of Evangelization and Catechesis with Adolescents
Orientation week –January 2 – 8, 2017
Course work: January 9 - 30
Assignment due by February 6.
2B - Forming a Consequential Faith in Adolescents
Prerequisite: Course 2A or precious program M4 and M6.
Course work: February 6 – February 27, 2017
Assignment due by March 6
* Mass for Life
Sunday, January 22
Look for more information to come from the Office of Pro-life, Marriage and Family
* Eagle of the Cross Nomination Deadlines
Mail by Wednesday, February 15 or deliver to the OY&YAM by the 17th.
If you know an outstanding upperclassman that you would like to nominate for the annual Eagle of the Cross award, be sure to write up a form in January or early February. While only a few will be selected, all nominees receive a certificate and letter so they will know that you identified their giftedness and Christian leadership abilities!
* CMD National Workshop Series: Generation Z
Tuesday, Marcy 7
Location TBA, but mark your calendars now for a day of learning and discussion with a staffer of the Center for Ministry Development.
* NCYC Packet Pick Up
For group leaders to the National Catholic Youth Conference in
Indianapolis, November 16 - 19. Two options,
immediately following the CMD workshop on March 7
and after the Office of Religious Education In-Service Day on March 23
Additional information will then be posted to the office webpages.
Did You Know?
The monthly Diocese of Youngstown newsletter, The Communique'
is posted on the diocesan website for your convenience?
Be sure to bookmark the page so you can always find great info from
the Chancery and diocesan offices....
so many opportunities and resources!
Best wishes for a beautiful weekend
Happy Catechetical Sunday
I was a bit disheartened to read a recent article published by Our Sunday Visitor written by CARA researcher Mary Gray in which he explains reasons why so many Millennials are no longer practicing Catholics.
Based on analysis from two different studies the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) conducted, they found such things as:
> the typical age for this decision to leave was made at 13.
> 63 percent said they stopped being Catholic between the ages of 10 and 17.
> Another 23 percent say they left the Faith before the age of 10.
I am well aware of the "rise of the nones" as the largest growing religious "label" in the US lately, and that many young adults who leave don't come back as was once believed (once they marry or once they have kids... they'll be back to Church, many would say.) And I have seen high school youth ministry programs shrink in size over the past two decades. There are have been many guesses why and I've seen families shift focus from religious activities to time-intensive extra-curriculars for the kids (i.e. seasonal sports now include year-round commitments with weightlifting, training camps and ongoing practices.... musical and dance groups have increased rehearsals and competitions... speech and debate now is most of the school year... and so on.)
But this was the first time I have reflected on nearly a fourth of young people saying they "checked out" of the faith by 4th or 5th grade (yes, read that age 10 bit above again.... and let that sink in...)
(See article at: https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/PapalVisit/Articles/Article/TabId/2727/ArtMID/20933/ArticleID/20512/Young-people-are-leaving-the-faith-Heres-why.aspx)
Searching for answers, I read:
<<important to their decision to leave:
that they had stopped believing in what the Catholic Church teaches,
and that they did not like the Catholic Church’s rules and judgmental approach. >>
OK, those facts are not new...
we often spend time in youth ministries 'defending the faith' and correcting misunderstandings.
What was new was a clearer explanation on how young people understand science to be in contrast to Catholic teachings.... this gave me a sense of hope, however.
Young people must hear and see how Catholicism and science cant co-exist....
that gives some clues on ways we may be able to turn around this trend of leaving!
1. We can begin to better educate our catechists, volunteers and core team members on the Church's teaching on MANY of the scientific theories.
“‘Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 159).
2. We can include intercessory prayers to patron saints of the scientific fields
Here are just a few I found with a quick Google search:
Albertus Magnus/Albert the Great – natural scientists, scientists, biology, chemistry,
Barbara - mathematicians, geoscientist
Cosmas – doctors, pharmacists, surgeons,
Damian – doctors, pharmacists, surgeons,
Dominic de Guzman - scientists
Dymphna – mental health professionals, psychiatrists,
Hubert of Liege - mathematicians
Isidore of Seville – computer scientists,
Joseph of Cupertino – astronauts,
Rebekah – physicists
(Challenge the youth to find the patron saint of a certain area... could be fun online or book research project.)
Here is a prayer I found that may come in handy:
O Divine Creator,
Saint Albert was a bishop
who introduced Greek and Arabic science to medieval Europe,
raising understanding of botany,
biology, physics, and other studies of nature.
A scientist himself,
he wrote many books on these subjects.
I ask him to pray for all scientists today,
for their talents to be used
to promote life rather than to destroy it,
for elusive cures to be found,
and for the moral use of the discoveries
that they have already made.
O Lord, fill them with Your Holy Spirit
to guide them into understanding
and respecting that You are the Author
and Master of all creation.
pray for us.
3. We can highlight the many Catholic scientists who have contributed greatly to the various fields of study.
(Another research endeavor for the teens!)
4. We can recruit more Catholics working in scientific fields to be involved with our ministries -- as catechists, volunteers and core team members or at least as guest speakers (talking about how their faith and their work co-exist and perhaps nurture each other!)
What other ideas can you think of?
I'd love for us to pray and work together to try to stop this trend for the current
and next generations of young people.
A few thoughts gathered for the Office of Religious Education in-service tomorrow "Reaching Out In Mercy to Those with Special Needs")
1. Meeting with one-on-one with parents/guardians, both, if possible.
Questions to ask:
1. What are your child’s interests?
2. Are there any sensory needs or dislikes that we should know about?
3. Is there anything that your child finds upsetting or uncomfortable?
4. Is an aide required? (Sibling, parent, or professional care-giver?) Will the aide, if an adult, be willing to complete the Diocesan Child Protection Policy steps to be present with youth?
Assure them you are honored to be part of the team with them and appreciate their patience as you and team members learn some of the things necessary. Together, create a file that outlines any specific needs the student has, including medical issues, behavioral issues, or psychological issues.
2. Meeting one-on-one with the teen (and parents or aide) so s/he can get to know and feel comfortable with you.
Ask: What are your interests?
Ask: What are your concerns, if any?
Try to find a specific way the teen can be of service at your Church (i.e. if s/he is good at singing, pair him/her with your VBS music group to help; if s/he has great computer skills, then ask him/her to work with a team to create a PowerPoint prayer service for a youth event, etc.)
3. Check your facilities to see if any alterations need to be made to better accommodate the youth with different abilities (may also want the parents to check with you as they will have additional insights and suggestions.) Consider access to rooms in use, restroom facilities, doorways, outdoor activity terrain, etc.
4. Ask if any of your youth ministry team members have experience or expertise in working with youth with disabilities? You may be surprised at the wealth of expertise available at your parish when you consider:
Would they be willing to either work directly with the teen or train someone else how to assist the teen?
5. Prepare your team members/catechist/volunteers – see what resources they may need to be able to comfortably integrate the youth.
Good news: Because of the main-streaming trend in school systems, most of our teens will already be fine with members of differing abilities… So that will help! You may find teens very willing to volunteer to be a buddy with the new teen to assist at an event.
Keep lines of communication open with the teen, his/her parents, and your team members.
What additional suggestions would you have to add?
In 2014, Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) surveyed a number
of youth ministers in the USA and asked them to
define effective parish youth ministry.
It is important to take time every year or so
to reflect on this question, as the answers change
a little with each generation. Consider that every 5 years
you have a whole new batch of teens with which to serve.
How might YOU answer that question?
OSV then created this list from the responses:
Effective Ministry with Youth is Personal
◗ It calls teens to a personal relationship with Christ, helping them understand the Catholic Faith, first and foremost, as an intimate relationship with Christ and his Church, more than a mere list of rules.
◗ It seeks to meet teens’ hunger for intimacy by building meaningful relationships within the youth group and parish.
◗ It creates small, faith-sharing groups, where teens can learn to let themselves be known and where adults can more readily listen to the teens’ struggles and questions, witness to Christ through their actions and help teens identify their gifts and charisms.
◗ It doesn’t presume the struggles of iGeneration teens in general are the struggles of one group of teens in particular. It listens, then responds.
◗ It reaches out to teens as individuals, issuing personal invitations to participate in events and not just relying on Facebook invites.
◗ It recognizes that it takes time to build relationships and earn trust, so it seeks to maintain continuity by retaining effective youth ministers and volunteers.
Effective Ministry with Youth is Sacramental
◗ It helps teens engage more fully and fruitfully in the Church’s liturgy.
◗ It provides regular opportunities throughout the year for confession.
◗ It brings teens to a face-to-face encounter with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, providing them with ample time for silent prayer and reflection in Eucharistic adoration.
◗ It seeks to include parish priests in as many events and activities as possible.
◗ It seeks to help the whole family, not just individual teens, encounter Christ more fully in the Church’s sacramental and liturgical life.
Effective Ministry with Youth is Formative
◗ It forms teens in the teachings of the Faith, helping them grow in their knowledge of Church doctrine through effective catechesis.
◗ It forms teens in Christian prayer, teaching them what prayer is, how to pray, and providing them with opportunities to pray both as part of a community and on their own.
◗ It forms teens in Christian living, helping them see how the teachings of the faith are applied to the circumstances of everyday life.
◗ It forms teens relationally, teaching them how to build friendships, listen to others, make sacrifices and communicate who they are in face-to-face interactions.
◗ It forms teens culturally, helping them better understand how to use technology and discern messages in the media.
Effective Ministry with Youth is Challenging
◗ It doesn’t treat teens as the parish work force, including them in parish events simply to do the set-up and clean-up work.
◗ It doesn’t treat retreats or youth group events as items on the pre-confirmation checklist.
◗ It addresses the hard questions and hard issues teens face.
◗ It doesn’t water down the Church’s teaching or soft-peddle the Christian faith.
◗ It issues specific challenges relevant to teens’ lives, calling on them to stop watching pornography, avoid gossip, not cheat in school, be kind to those who others abuse, date chastely, dress modestly, give to the poor, support their parish and help their parents.
◗ It never wastes time. It strives to make every activity, even games and ice-breakers, purpose-filled.
◗ It encourages them to serve the less fortunate in person, going on mission trips, organizing activities that bring them in contact with the local poor and taking them on visits to hospitals and nursing homes.
(See full article in which this information was included:
_ https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/Story/TabId/2672/ArtMID/13567/ArticleID/14409/Plugging-teens-into-the-faith-A-how-to-guide.aspx )
It seemed like a pretty good list to help us all reflect on our youth ministry offerings.
Do you agree?
Anything you would chance in this list?
Anything you would add to this list?
How are the opportunities for teens in your parish related to these elements?
As a new academic year begins,
it is helpful to reflect upon the strengths and challenges of programming, resources and services of the past as you plan for the year ahead.
Here are the strengths reported on the
2015 PARISH YOUTH MINISTRY REPORTS:
> Relationships—building them slowly with teens!
> We attend their events: sports, plays, concerts; we know them and they know us.
> Dynamic Youth Ministers
> Good, dedicated catechists
> Communication skills; knowing children/families; familiarity
> Communication through texting, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, phone, email; bulletin; handouts; writing letters; doing one event/month with other Warren Area Catholic parishes
> Passion of the YM team; youth dedication; pastor support
> Consistency (bi-weekly meetings)
> Strong leadership teams
> Hard-working catechists and eager-to-participate students
> Youth that are active at parish activities
> Providing engaging and meaningful service opportunities
> Active core team willing to meet teen where they are; attending events.
> Both priests attending meetings, retreats and service—willing to pray with YM and caring for them; deacon involvement; young core members, emails; Life Teen
> Enthusiastic students from a mix of public, Catholic and home schools.
> Our willingness to try new things
> Direct personal contact and enthusiasm of team
> Great communication with teens through texts and social media
> Facebook reflections and Scriptures;
> Personal contact with youth and parents; reminders via text and REMIND
> Ablaze attendees have become good friends and support one another and invite others
> Sunday Mass, good liturgy, music, parishioner participation (welcoming environment)
Which of these are strengths at your parish?
Which might you want to have as strengths by the end of this year?
What might you add to the list?
May a foundation of prayer be with you and your fellow adult leaders
so that your relationship with Christ is so close that His love exudes so strongly that
the teens and their families cannot help buy notice and want to be a part of it!
Here are a few scripture verses to remind you that the Lord is our Strength!
On the day I cried out, you answered;
you strengthened my spirit.
~ Psalm 138: 3
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
~ Philippians 4: 13
My strength and my refuge is the LORD, and he has become my savior.
This is my God, I praise him; the God of my father, I extol him.
~ Exodus 15: 2
Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God,
who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.
~ Deuteronomy 31: 6
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.
~ Isaiah 40: 31
I was recently in a discussion with a Coordinator for Youth Ministry about various roles a facilitator takes during a retreat, which reminded me of the handout (copied below) prepared by Sister Mary Ann Spangler, HM as we trained young adults to lead youth retreats. I share this now for your use, not only in regards to preparing leaders for retreats, but also to consider when planning a class, meeting or other gatherings.
Simple sharing is a group process in which each person is invited by the facilitator to share for about one minute without interruption from anyone else. Each can make statements based on facts or personal opinion. Questions for clarification can be asked after all members of the group have finished speaking. It is not the time for debate, discussion or other comments. If a person is not ready to share, they are permitted to pass and the facilitator will return to them after the last person in the group has had an opportunity to contribute.
Silence, although not popularly recognized as a “group process,” is a very important group technique. At various points, the facilitator or participants may request a moment or more for silence. This is a time of quiet for reflecting and integrating what has been heard or presented. It is especially important for introverts to have this time for internal processing.
Active Listening calls for total attention and openness to the speaker or input. It is a receptive stance that is non-judgmental and is often followed by other processes such as reflection or critical analysis.
Reflection is usually accompanied by silence. It provides a time to integrate information and refocus, to ponder meaning and implications. Reflection can be an invitation to place ideas and insights into a broader context and a chance to explore the application of values, as well as imagine possible consequences.
Shared reflection provides the opportunity to share personal insights within a group context. It is usually accompanied by active listening, critical analysis and in a Christian context, may include prayer.
Critical Analysis is an active process in which input is integrated into a context which includes, but is not limited to: social, economic, emotional, financial, spiritual, global, and historical realities. It is an opportunity to integrate what is known, in order to best recognize next steps.
Discussion is a conversation, back and forth, respectfully sharing factual information and opinions. This is not the same as debate (forensics) or argumentative conversation (conflict). This is an opportunity for strengthening understanding, seeking clarification, providing rationale and listening attentively.
Brainstorming is a process which encourages many ideas to be shared without judgment, clarification, discussion or comment. It is a method which generates many ideas in a very short period of time. It is a way for stretching, expanding and visioning new possibilities. It is helpful to have a secretary or recorder list the ideas for further analysis, reflection and discussion.
Resistance can be an internal or external pulling away from the central focus. It may involve slowing down or stopping a process and the flow of energy. It can be subtle and even unrecognized within an individual or group.
Consensus: (Developed by Dobie Moser, March, 2004)
Building Consensus is understood as a state of shared commitment regarding a specific statement within a group of persons. It is not a number indicating winning and losing, it is not the same as unanimity, nor is it a majority rules process. It is a process for listening, reflecting, and discerning how a group’s decision or direction reflects the values that it expresses as its own.
Consensus requires having a specific statement representing the group to consider. Here are the ingredients of a well developed consensus statement
1. Focuses on a specific aspect of the topic
2. Takes a clearly articulated position
3. Reflects community identified common values
4. It is a statement of vision & direction - action steps come later
Prayer is a conversation with God which involves speaking and listening. It can be formal, informal, personal or communal and provides the faith foundation of mission, discipleship, and the eschatological mysteries.
Discernment is a process which leads to a faith-based decision. It incorporates a series of steps or phases some of which include: statement of a question or listing of options; openness to any possible outcome (freedom); gathering of data or information on each option; prayer for guidance; recognition of personal gifts, talents, and skills; recognizing the right “fit”; and a commitment to that choice which leads to inner peace.
Dialog is a more complex, in-depth conversation around questions or issues which incorporates many facets, perceptions and attitudes. Many of the processes identified above would be foundational when engaging in an honest and sincere dialog.
Cindee Case, MAPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.