In mid-March 2020, it became obvious that as schools, Churches, stores, restaurants, and just about everything was closing down that people reacted in different ways. It reminded me of studying Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' book "On Death and Dying" that was later expanded to discuss grief. In many ways, the withdrawal from life-as-we-know-it was a loss, a death of sorts.... from what we planned our lives to be like, to a new and unknown existence. So, I decided to dig back out some of that information to see how it might help.
If you are unfamiliar, know that Kubler-Ross identified 5 stages of Grief
(note, these are my paraphrases for our worldview in ministry,
not the full psychology... you can read her book for more details):
1. DENIAL (and shock) - we are unable to truly comprehend the loss.
This is a grace at first, to give us a moment to be calm, perhaps numb,
as we begin to process the myriad of feelings.
2. ANGER - eventually, the anger about the loss bubbles up.
We begin to feel how unfair it is that this person/event/expectation
has been taken from you. You may yell at everyone, including God,
as you work through the anger.
3. BARGAINING - trying to imagine ways you could change something that
would erase the loss/bring the person back. A lot of "what ifs" race
through one's mind. We feel like we could have done something to have
avoided this loss.
4. DEPRESSION - realizing that the loss is real, and you cannot change it,
deep sadness settles in and we really mourn the loss.
5. ACCEPTANCE - we eventually start to get back to "normal" life (which is of course, different and we try to figure out the 'new normal' with the loss as part of our life.) While this loss hurts, I can go on with my life.
A couple of notes:
> Each person spends different amounts of time in each stages, but we do work through all of them (So, for example, Joe might be in denial for a day, then the next day moved through the next four stages..... Suzanne may spend a long time in Bargaining...)
> While they follow in order, we may go back and repeat stages before moving
(Steve might go between denial and anger for a while before moving on to bargaining)
> certain events or memories may send someone through the process again
I mention all this because, as we check-in with or teens and even their parents, we may find that they fall in one of the stages..... and they will move through them at different paces... but we can try to make sure we prepare ourselves to address and validate them no matter what they are feeling.... and recognize they may talk or act differently next time we check-in.
The image below lists a few typical emotions to each stage.
Use it to gauge your own reactions, and those of family if you like,
and keep in mind that every FEELING is valid....
ACTING on the feelings are where problems may occur.
So, allow ways to talk about the feelings to
help them not act out.
This is a tool that might be helpful to make sense of the variety of
feeling you'll hear teens/families express.
Our goal is to listen then gently guide them towards Acceptance,
as they are ready.
While whatever they are feeling right now is "current"
the early stages focus on the past,
which is unhealthy to stay in for too long.
Acceptance focuses on today and making plans for the future.
"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope."
As most of us are not licensed counselors,
this information is just a guideline to consider.
(Refer parents to consider counseling for anyone
who appears to be fighting clinical depression.)
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:
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....
"The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus." (EG 1)
After months of preparation with the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministry Leaders (NACYML), I am so excited that the MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) has begun. We are now in week 2 and have already heard:
-- The Most Reverend Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport,
--Tom East,. Joan Weber and Angel Barrera with the Center for Ministry Development and
--Dr. Ansel Augustine from the Archdiocese of New Orleans
They discussed points from chapters 1 and 2 of the Holy Father's "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel).
There have also been Live Chat/discussions on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET.
Furthermore, these presentations are breaking open in our Networking Learning Groups, including the "Ohio Dioceses" group.
And if that wasn't enough, quotes from the documents and speakers are being tweeted (#NACYMLMOOC), Pinned (https://www.pinterest.com/nfcym/fostering-a-culture-of-encounter-with-young-discip/ ) and Facebooked (https://www.facebook.com/NACYML).
There are participants from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, etc. as well as from all over the US. Some are new volunteers, others have been involved in ministry for decades. I LOVE the variety as the different perspectives are helping me expand my own understanding.
IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO GET INVOLVED!
We still have 3 full weeks of class,
and the past presentations and chats have all been recorded and posted.
You can do this work at any time you have available (i.e. 5 a.m. over coffee before the household is awake....on your lunch break.... midnight if you are a night-owl) and it is FREE!
Upcoming presentations will be by Fr. Joe Espaillat, Dr. Carolyn Woo and Bob Rice.
If you complete the Learning Journals and submit them to me (email@example.com) for review, you can also earn hours towards your Catechist certification.
Enroll now at: www.nacyml.org/moocRegister.htm
For those of you already part of it: THANKS for join in. I hope you have been able to enjoy the presentations, discussions and insights shared. There will be time at the May 27th Youth Ministers Gathering for you to share some of your learnings with the group face-to-face. So, jot down a few notes on what has been inspiring you and what practical ideas you have taken from the course.
As ministers, paid or volunteer, it seems as if we seldom have enough time to keep up on current information, trends, tools and trainings. While I fully endorse and encourage participation in our diocesan opportunities like YMOT (Youth Ministry Online Training Program), Christian Formation Series, Liturgy Day, Evangelization and Catechesis Day, in-service, etc., there are so many more opportunities for you -- some as close as your computer!
Webinars are online (web) seminars that allow students from all over the country/world to participate together with an expert, teacher, motivator, author, leader or facilitator. "Live" participants who join the webinar in "real time" often have the chance to ask questions, offer additional insights or respond to questions during the session. Many of the sessions are recorded and made available any time.
Key advantages of webinars are:
1. No travel time to and from the session.
2. Shortened commitment time then without the travel involved.
3. Can be done about anywhere you have an internet connection, so that can be in your office, at home, or (with earphones) while you wait for your child involved in a sport, dance, music, etc.
4. You can learn from speakers who may never come to this area. It is incredible to be able to ask an expert a question and get his/her direct response!
5. You can learn about almost ANY topic, if you search long enough.
6. Affordable -- most of offered inexpensively, and many are FREE.
7. You can interact with participants from all over the region, country or world, depending on the webinar.
So, check your internet connection (speed, bandwidth) and computer/tablet/smartphone sound,
and if they are compatible, then start looking for the topics you most want to learn about via webinar!
I shall offer a few suggestions:
+ Members of the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministry Leaders receive FREE access to monthly webinars with topics directly of interest to our ministries with teens. Membership is only $60 for the year and has additional benefits like discounts on conferences and resources, membership news, etc.
Check out the current webinar listing at:
For membership, click here:
+ For only $25 per session (discounted in bulk), the Center for Ministry Development offers monthly topics related to ministry with youth, young adults, and families. You can also review past sessions and get the handouts. See their listing at:
+ Paulist Evangelization Ministries (Paulist Fathers) offers sessions during this Year of Faith with helpful ways we can deepen our personal faith and share with others. Most (all?) have been free of charge, but you must pre-register. Check out upcoming topics at:
+ St. Mary's Press offers a number of webinars that help make use of tools they produce
See their offerings at:
+ Joe Paprocki offers insights on his Catechist's Journey site. While he has worked mostly with DREs and children's programs, there are topics of interest to those of us working with 'older children' as well.
+ Ave Maria Press offers free webinars for parish minister's professional development.
WHAT OTHERS MIGHT YOU RECOMMEND?
How have webinars helped your ministry?
How have webinars helped your personal growth as a minister?
What new things have you learned by participating in a webinar?
How have webinars helped you encourage continued formation with your team, vo
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT --
-- Recordings from Conferences
Since we cannot all afford the time and money to attend every great national conference, despite knowing we could expand our knowledge and skills, have you considered purchasing recordings of sessions from those conferences?
Here are two examples of workshops that I have gotten to learn from
even if I was not able to attend:
1. "LA Congress" (took place Feb. 2013) in Anaheim, CA)
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles' Religious Education Congress
HUGE gathering on the west coast featuring some of the most cutting edge speakers in our Church (Does not include Youth Day, however).
2. "NCCYM" (took place in December 2012 in Orlando, FL)
National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry
Sponsored by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.