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:
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!
"And the Survey Says..."
Insights from the Diocesan Synod Surveys
At the 2017 Ministry Day workshop with Fr. Chris Luoni and Cindee Case, we discussed some of what we learned through the input of nearly 500 teens, young adults, parents and Church leaders in preparing for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops focused on "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment."
We laid it out as a bit of a game show, inviting attendees to guess at the responses of the high school teens, young adults (20s and 30s) and sometimes parents/family members of the youth and young adults on a few key questions. The results surprised a few folks.... but do keep in mind that the surveys were completed voluntarily for the most part (a Catholic school religion teacher may not have given an option, and perhaps a few parents may have insisted, but it is mostly from volunteers.) Responses also came primarily from people who are very or somewhat connected to a Catholic parish or school, but I was pleased with some very honest responses on what that connection may mean for the individual.
In any event, why not test yourself? Let me know if the comment section how you did, what you thought, or how a survey result might impact your ministry.
And come back to this blog page for more updates throughout the year.
The Powerpoint presentation is attached below (large file) and has been posted online for quick viewing at: (Click on link address or black button)
"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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
I ask you to pray for the 175 delegates from our diocese traveling to Indianapolis next week.....but I would like for you to personally check out a virtual session, and invite your youth and their parents to take advantage of the online sessions as well.
At the times listed below, just log on to
and look for the Live Streaming section
(Know that our very own Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. is scheduled to lead the Friday morning prayer, so that would be a great one for you to check out!)
Note: all times are approximate depending on schedule adjustments onsite.
Thursday, November 21
You may catch some of our delegation sporting the diocesan hooded-sweatshirt seen above.
Praying for each of us to be ever grateful that we are "Signed.Sealed.Delivered"
-- Blessings, Cindee
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
Today was the Center for Ministry Development Spring workshop, "Mobilizing Volunteers" at St. Joseph in Austintown, led by Ann Marie Eckert. While many of the participants walked out with many new ideas, planning tools, and inspiration, I think that one of the core ideas was that WE (as parish leaders, ministers, or facilitators) must invite our fellow Catholics to live their Baptismal Call by sharing their gifts with the community.
This means that we are NOT just recruiting new catechists, retreat cooks, dance chaperones, parent drivers, service project leaders and so on.....we are giving people the opportunity to share their talents....perhaps to utilize their professional expertise or to try something new....So we should not feel bad or shy about asking people to volunteer. We just may need to rethink HOW we ask and to what they are asked......
If you were at the workshop, what key insights did you appreciate?
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.