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!
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!
Ahhhh, as Memorial Day weekend nears,
I can hear the sighs of relief from many
parish ministers, teachers, and families
as another school year concludes.
Another sprint through the winter and spring
are almost complete, and we are celebrating:
longer and warmer days....
graduations from everything from pre-schools through advanced college degrees...
Sacramental Celebrations, especially Confirmations and First Holy Communions...
perhaps Weddings and vacations as well....
"end of the year" retreats, parties and field trips...
the closing of the 75th Anniversary of the Diocese...
In any event, there seems no lack of JOY at this time of the year!
WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?
Really, take a moment to reflect on the question....
sure, jot down the first things that come to your mind,
but then consider if they bring laughter, satisfaction, warm-fuzzies,
or true joy?
Dig deeper.... what truly fills your heart with joy?
Beginning this Friday and running throughout the summer,
the OY&YAM Facebook page/Twitter feed will have posts
from the 2019 Eagle of the Cross Recipients on what brings them joy.
Perhaps, as no surprise, the most repeated answer involved family and friends.
However, service and helping others ran a close second!
Thank you, Coordinators for Youth Ministries for making opportunities
for service and mission work possible as to help bring joy to those serving
as well as those being served.
My point of posting these insights is to help prompt thoughts of joy in all
who will read them... and hope the readers will then share joy to those around them.
Here is the full list, in no particular order (just as I typed them flipping through the
Eagle of the Cross response forms). Possibly, the list will bring you some joy,
and help you tap into the deep joy in your heart,
so that we can continue to be "an Easter people" claiming "Alleluia is our song"
as St. John Paul II said, long after this Easter season has ended.
And as Pope Francis reminds us, "If we live the faith in our daily life,
then our work too becomes a chance to spread the joy of being a Christian."
Please, keep spreading joy in your daily life of faith!
2019 Eagle of the Cross Recipients Joys:
A Little About a Few of the Outstanding Teens Around
The Diocese of Youngstown
I realize that the Eagle of the Cross Recipients are only a small sample of the outstanding teens around our diocese (yes, only the ones for whom an adult took the time to submit a nomination and that the examples shared in the nomination seemed more impressive than those listed for other great teens nominated as read by a couple "judges.") However, since they DO represent so many teens, I thought it only fair to share the excerpts from the nominations shared in the Program Book be shared with more people. That way, we can all pause to be grateful for the many young people contributing to our parish and school communities.
THANKS to the nominators for providing this information!
thanks to the numerous mentors, teachers, ministers, family members
and friends who supported, guided and inspired these teens!
And thank God for these teens and their willingness to
live their faith and share God's love with others!
2019 Eagle of the Cross Recipients
(Listed alphabetically by last name,
Name, Parish, grade, school, excerpt)
Our Lady of Sorrows, Youngstown
Ursuline High School
Stephen has served more yearly hours for Students of Stewardship than anyone else. His quiet humility and consistent service to his neighbor is inspiring. He is a role model for his friends and younger students at Ursuline through his example. He is committed to his liturgical ministry roles as altar server and Eucharistic Minister*.
St. Joan of Arc, Streetsboro
Streetsboro High School
Marley serves as a Lector, Eucharistic Minister* and altar server often volunteering if someone is absent. She is a teen leader at the parish Vacation Bible School program. She has participated in the last two mission trip experiences to Kentucky. She shares her faith often bringing friends to her parish to say ‘hello’ to the staff. Marley is active in providing Word/Communion services to local nursing homes.
St. Christine, Youngstown
Canfield High School
Bridget has been an altar server and Eucharist Minister*. As a member of a community service club, she has volunteered at the St. John’s Soup kitchen. Participating in a Celebrate weekend helped make her the person she is today. She is the Youth Representative on Parish Council giving reports on the YM program. She also developed and maintains the website for the program.
Patricia Ann Carr
St. Jude, Columbiana
Columbiana High School
Patricia assists with her parish Vacation Bible School and is an altar server. She has been a youth leader for younger children at Summer Drama Camp at the Crown Theater. She has participated in the NCYC and represented her parish at the Diocesan 75th Anniversary Mass for teens. Last year she was named Rotary Outstanding Interact Student.
Holy Family, Poland
Cardinal Mooney High School
Brooke participated in a Celebrate weekend and then became a member of the team. As part of an elective Theology course she did community service in nursing homes, schools and with the poor. At Villa Maria Farms she participated in a local mission trip. She has also served at St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen, and as an altar server and Eucharistic Minister* at her parish.
Jarod Evan Day
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Austintown
Ursuline High School
Jarod has been an active member of his school’s Stewardship Club for four years, volunteering more hours than anyone else. He has helped out at the Purple Cat and St. Vincent de Paul. He has done mission work in Nicaragua helping to build a house. His spirituality comes in the form of service to others. Jarod is an altar server and has been commissioned as a Eucharistic Minister*.
St. William, Warren
Champion High School
Bridget often attends more than one mass per weekend as she fulfills her roles as cantor, choir member and altar server. She has gone on three mission trips and worked as a volunteer at St. Vincent DePaul. She gives of her time at the parish and school level and reaches out to the community through her service work. Bridget has a heart for children and those in need.
Blessed Sacrament, Warren
Warren G. Harding High School
Cullen is a role model to his younger sisters and Boy Scouts in his troop. He has been a Eucharistic Minister* and altar server. As a Kairos participant one year, he went on to be the group leader the next year and now serves as co-leader. He is very thoughtful, kind, spiritual and loving towards his friends and family. He hopes to be a CYO camp counselor to help children enjoy the experience as he has.
Katherine Julia Flickinger
SS. Philip and James, Canal Fulton
Canton Central High School
Katie is a lector at her parish and will go on her fourth Kentucky mission trip with her youth group this year. She is a volunteer at the House of Loreto assisting both staff and residents. She also helps in caring for her grandparents. She started doing service projects when she had her 5th birthday by asking her friends to bring pet supplies to donate to the Stark County Humane Society.
Virginia Katherine Grier
St. Joseph Calasanctius,Jefferson
Jefferson Area High School
Ginny is a Core Team leader and liaison to Parish Council for her Youth Group; she is also a lector, catechist, and server. She was a convert to Catholicism on her own initiative in middle school. Her entire family either came to or returned to the Church by the example she set. Ginny is a doer of the Word – not just a hearer. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are at work in her.
St. Joseph, Massillon
Massillon Washington High School
Matt serves as a lector, Eucharist Minister*, CCD aide and youth Representative on Parish Council. He is a four-year member of Ignite – the YM leadership team. His participation in the city’s Kindness Campaign planning committee exemplified his commitment to good moral decision making. He has received the Mayor’s Student of the Year award.
Our Lady of Peace, Ashtabula
St. John School
Emma is president of her school’s Philanthropy Club and an active member of Acts 29 – a ministry group; she was also the student leader and head sacristan for 40 Days of Kindness. Emma has been a lector and leads other students through Lectio Divina and art prayer in order to do bible journaling. During Catholic Schools Week, Emma helped set up the Service Village and led morning prayer every day.
St. Joseph Calasanctius,Jefferson
St. John School
Conner is a member of Acts 29 Ministry Club. He is a Eucharistic Minister* and student leader for the National Week of Student Prayer serving as an example of what it means to be dedicated to your faith and the spiritual growth of others. He has participated in Project Grow for the past 6 years. Connor has assisted in Thanksgiving food drives and Lenten service projects to serve the community.
Quinn Li Lamp
St. Louis, Louisville
St. Thomas Aquinas High School
Quinn is an officer in her school’s Right to Life Club attending the March for Life in DC and participating in school activities promoting Pro-Life. She volunteers as an ambassador for tours, reading to younger students and setting up for conferences. She attended the Kairos retreat and was invited to be a retreat leader this year. She has been an altar server and Eucharistic Minister* at her parish.
St. John the Evangelist, Summitville
Carrollton High School
Jaret has attended both NCYC and DYC two times; to raise the necessary funds for these conferences, he helped make meals, washed cars and worked at service projects for the elderly in the community. He is an altar server, Eucharistic Minister* and Lector. He attends Prayer Warriors at his school – a student-led group that meets weekly to pray.
Blessed Sacrament, Warren
John F. Kennedy Catholic School
Ashley is a faithful altar server and mentors the younger servers. She has also assisted in Vacation Bible School and volunteered with Social justice organizations in Cincinnati through the iPlunge Summer Mission Retreat. She and a friend initiated the Beautification of St. Vincent DePaul Dining Hall; this is an ongoing project that she hopes will come to fruition by graduation time.
Abigail Noel Marchand
St. Anthony/All Saints, Canton
Perry High School
Abby can always be counted on to be at YM formation sessions, service opportunities, socials and larger events like the DYC and NCYC. She shows enthusiasm for parish programs and is an example for her peers. She has been an altar server since she was very young. Leadership is natural for Abby; she does not try to upstage anyone but works toward being a role model to others.
St. Joseph, Austintown
Austintown Fitch High School
Nicholas has followed family tradition becoming a second degree Knight of Columbus. He has earned two Catholic Scouting Religious awards – Ad Altare Dei and the Pope Pius XII. He is preparing his witness talk on leadership for the Celebrate weekend. His enthusiasm for his music ministry and continuing willingness for altar serving is an inspiration. His faith is the driving force in his life.
Scott Andrew Mintus
St. William, Warren
John F. Kennedy Catholic School
Scott is an altar server and a regular volunteer for church fundraisers and at the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen helping to prepare food and set up. He is very involved in JFK’s Relay for Life team. Scott attended the Kairos retreat last year and is returned as a leader. He has received the Rotary Youth Leadership Award. He attended the iPlunge mission retreat spending time in Cincinnati and Kentucky.
Nicholas J. Muscarella
Blessed Sacrament, Warren
John F. Kennedy Catholic School
Nicholas values his faith above all. He is involved in his parish EPIC (Every Person in Christ) teen youth group and in our iPlunge mission trip to Milford, OH. He has also joined WACT (Warren Area Catholic Teens) where joint events are held with four other churches. He is an advocate for the unborn through Life Chain. He supported Helping Hands through packaging rice being sent to Burkina Faso.
St. Brendan, Youngstown
Austintown Fitch High School
Eddie is a dedicated member of his parish Youth Ministry program and serves at the weekly Lenten Fish Fry. Besides making nursing home visits, he assisted in organizing religious article donations that were packaged and sent to Africa. Among his peers, he provides the example of moral, conscientious and courteous behavior treating others as he would want to be treated.
Logan Joseph Ambrose Orlowski
St. Ambrose, Garrettsville
Logan is an extremely active young person in our parish. He has been an altar server for many years and is now one of our Youth Ministry student leaders. He facilitates outreach projects with our YM group through the March for Life, food pantries, and Youngstown Community Kitchen project. Our YM program can attribute much of its success to Logan’s influence and leadership.
Maggie Joy Paul
St. Joseph, Massillon
Central Catholic High School
Maggie is a Eucharistic Minister* and altar server at her parish. She is a commissioner for the service organization at her school (Crusaders for Community) and has done work for nursing homes, the humane society and a Kentucky mission trip with the Ignite Youth Group. She is a mentor for her school’s Peer Ministry program and exemplifies Christian virtues in everyday ways.
Holy Family, Poland
Cardinal Mooney High School
Aaron is an altar server, Eucharistic Minister* and member of the Youth Ministry and Celebrate teams. During Advent and Lent he is a leader for a prayer experience for children K-4. Aaron has been part of three mission trips to Cumberland, KY. Whether it’s mentoring a new student or serving as a team leader for Link Crew, Aaron always says “yes!”
Sarah Ann Riley
Our Lady of Peace, Ashtabula
St. John School
Sarah served a vital role in getting junior high Youth Ministry started; she was a core team member in the high school YM. She has served as Eucharistic Minister*, sacristan and member of Acts 29 (campus ministry club) at her school. She has been active in Vacation Bible School, has led prayer on morning announcements at her school and is a member of the Bible journaling group.
St. Mary, Massillon
Central Catholic High School
Joe is a go-to person for help in setting up for school masses and prayer services. He has worked at his parish Fish Fry since grade school and helps with the Aultman Hospital Angel Auction each year. As a member of his school’s Senior Peer Ministry program he is faithful in mentoring freshmen; he has gone out of his way to those who hadn’t been assigned to him, too.
Asher G. Searles
Our Lady of Peace, Ashtabula
Edgewood Senior High School
Asher was a member of Junior and Senior High Youth Ministry. He has been a VBS, CCD and Fish Fry volunteer. He served as assistant for Confirmation and First Communion retreats. As an altar server, he would stay for more than one mass when no one else showed up. Asher has posted anti-abortion articles to his Facebook account because he wants to defend life. He is a servant leader.
William John Todd
Holy Trinity, East Liverpool
East Liverpool High School
Billy has been an active member of CCD, Youth Ministry and parish life. He composed and submitted the prayer that was used to introduce the Saturday morning sessions. The school district had Billy attend Camp Fitch as a counselor and role model for younger students. After serving, he can often be found assisting the sacristan. “The right thing to do” appears to be what shapes his actions.
St. Louis, Louisville
St. Thomas Aquinas High School
Elizabeth has been a contributing member of both her parish and school community. She has served as a Eucharistic Minister*, lector, altar server and RCIA sponsor. She served as a Kairos leader and gave a talk on holiness at the retreat. She is a student ambassador for her school. She has taken good advantage of her Catholic education allowing it to form her into a faithful young adult.
*Please note that due to space constraints, the shorter form of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion was used throughout the biographies.
Keep living the faith!
Most youth ministers and high school catechists discovered years ago that teens learn better by Doing and so have gotten very creative in ways to help youth apply learnings, but we often still have time for lecturing by the adult.
A few of us have moved to sending articles/chapters/booklets home to read or video links to view prior to meeting for class or session, adapting the teaching method of "flipped classroom" into religious education. (You can learn more about this below.) This is a great way to assure there is time to respond to questions and encourage discussion (so long as the students actually do the preparation and if all the youth have access to the media needed!)
I like this explanation of Jigsaw Learning as a way of perhaps using some Flipped Model, but giving another way for the youth to dive into the content. I think many of us have used this method in concept, but perhaps not with as much organization as this video describes:
This video lays out a game plan clearly. I really like the "expert group" portion where teens help each other understand the concepts (with adult advisors assisting when needed.) Then when the teens take the extra step to TEACH, we know they learn better.
Albert Einstein once said:
“I never teach my pupils,
I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
Can you see how the Jigsaw can provide conditions to learn?
I can envision a few ways to use this:
a. using The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth,
dividing up sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
or selecting by topic, such as:
Parts of the Mass...
Gifts of the Holy Spirit…
Fruits of the Holy Spirit…
Types of Books in the Bible....
The 7 Sacraments...
what other topics jump out for you to consider using Jigsaw?
b. having the above or YouCats for teens to look up topics that apply to the textbook you may be using for religious class
c. if using the Phlaum Weeklies, divide up sections, making sure teens have access to the teaching guide and supplementary booklets as well as Bibles and other resources to allow them to expand the information
d. even on a retreat, set aside some time for learning sessions on the theme of the retreat.
e. prior to a service/mission activity, cover Catholic Social Teachings or elements of the service project as connected to our faith.
What other ideas come to mind?
Reflection (feel free to share your responses as a Comment below)
Thanks for all you do to pass on the faith to the next generation.
We must ensure that young people are well equipped
for their special mission in the world.
-Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry
Quick overview of a Flipped Class:
Example of watching a Flipped Classroom
“Those who know, do.
Those that understand, teach.”
After months and months of waiting, preparing and praying for the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, it is finally here! Taking place October 3 - 28 in Rome.
The United States is represented by bishop delegates and ordained and lay leaders from across the United States. The bishop delegates are:
Stay involved with the process by praying for the delegates, and that the Holy Spirit leads all in Church leadership to be open to the input and witnesses of the young people (focusing on ages 16 - 29 at this time, but pray also for all youth and young adults.) Additionally, you can follow the Synod:
On social media, use the hashtag: #synod2018
Catholic News Service:
The Vatican website on the Synod:
United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website on the Synod:
Ave Maria Press has posted some support articles and can email you weekly synopsis upon request. Check out this interview with Leonard DeLorenzo and Pre-Synodal delegate Katie Prejean McGrady:
And, if you are between the ages of 16 and 29, there is a Facebook group for you to be connected with the Synod (in English, although other languages are also available):
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]
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Following many years of success through parish and school programs as well as larger events such as World Youth Days, national youth conferences, diocesan youth conventions and other signs of the Church’s ministry by, with, for, and to youth and young adults, it is exciting that the Universal Church is taking this moment to focus on ministry to young people through a Synod and the accompanying consultation process.
In the Diocese of Youngstown surveys, it was encouraging to see the number and variety of responses representing ages from thirteen through adults, from all areas of the diocese, and representing all facets of the Church: priests, seminarians, staff and volunteers in addition to the direct input from high school youth and young adults. The surveys also seem to represent the broad spectrum of Catholic beliefs and practices.
The surveys clearly show that teens and young adults want “more” from the Church – more opportunities for leadership, service and relationship building. However, it is surprising that the surveys did not reflect the view of many in the diocese who have expressed in other forums the importance of increasing the financial dedication of our diocese, parishes and schools for both youth ministries and young adult ministries. Increased funding would allow for more full-time paid staff, more resources, more dedicated physical space, and more support for activities and faith experiences. The Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry has received many requests for financial assistance for young people to participate in local, regional, national, and international service, formation, spiritual and programs.
Aside from the funding issues, the surveys did clearly indicate an important focus for youth ministry and young adult ministry: community. The surveys of young people indicated they wanted a place where they belong and are listened to, as well as more welcoming communities in general. What seems to be working is where committed adults – priests, youth ministers, staff, and other caring adults – are present to teens and young adults. In these situations, the young people are more connected to the Church through these relationships.
It was interesting to note that the polarization in the American Church community was evident in our diocesan surveys, from a desire to greater access to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and an emphasis on traditional teachings to a more engaging Mass and changing Church teachings in areas such as priestly celibacy and LGBTQ community tolerance. Our diocese reflects the challenge of being a community rich in both unity and diversity.
The challenges that young people face in the culture present both an area of a concern and an opportunity for youth ministry and young adult ministry. Knowing the concerns of youth and young adults - especially peer-pressure, drugs (in particular heroin and alcohol), bullying, and anxiety – require a response of our faith communities to present an authentic witness of God’s love. Discernment is a skill that we must both teach to our young people and practice as a community to empower missionary disciples of all ages.
+ Did anything you read here surprise you?
+ Did anything affirm efforts you are already making for/with young people and their families?
+ In what ways might your faith community do more to help young people in regards to their faith and vocational discernment?
If you read the previous blog post about the Diocese of Youngstown Synod Surveys, Part 10, you may have noticed this:
<<other initiatives which are highlighted at the end of the report are a summer mission and discernment trip to Cumberland, Kentucky and St. Andrew discernment dinners.
Here is that additional information:
House of Discernment at the Catholic University within our diocese (Walsh).
The House of Discernment is under the charge of the Vocations Office and allows men to be fully engaged as an active student on campus while living in community in a setting that allows them to discern a possible calling to the priesthood. The men participate in communal prayer, formation conferences, service work in the community, and other formation elements. If the man feels called to the priesthood, he can move to a seminary setting before he completes college. If he determines he is not called to priesthood, he will move out of the discernment house into university housing.
The second activity is a mission and discernment trip to Cumberland, Kentucky.
Each summer in June, men ages 16 to 35 are invited to attend a mission and discernment trip. The Vocations office and seminarians organize the week for those who participate. During the day, the men work around the community helping repair homes for people in need. In the evening, the men work with the seminarians to discuss what they experienced in the day and its theological implications. In addition, they discuss various aspects of discernment and where God is present and working in their lives. (Note: This trip was not offered in 2018 as the program is under review, however, there had been success in previous years, and it may return for 2019.)
The third activity is a St. Andrew Discernment dinner.
Two times per year, the Vocation Office offers a dinner for high school men and older. The evening runs two hours long. It includes Evening Prayer, dinner, a discussion on discernment and priesthood. The Bishop is present at these dinners along with members of the Vocation team and any seminarians that can attend. Priests in each parish are encouraged to invite young men to the dinners and to attend with them. The combination of the dinner discussion and the discussion following is very fruitful as it gives participants the opportunity to ask personal questions and to understand vocations and discernment in a communal setting. Each dinner is hosted by a parish in the diocese.
(I feel like I should now flash that "The More You Know" logo from a certain TV station....since you may have learned something new about a couple of the initiatives in the diocese!)
Thank you for your continued interest in the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. I hope that by breaking up the overall Diocese of Youngstown survey results and summary report, you have been able to take time to pause and reflect on many aspects of the theme.
As this process continues to move towards the October gathering of hundreds of bishops and cardinals, and we await the outcomes from the actual Synod, we can take small steps each day towards helping our youth and young adults to see their importance in our Church and our world!
A question in the Preparatory Document asked about ways we plan experiences for the pastoral vocational program for young people?
In the Diocese of Youngstown, the Office of Vocations reported several initiatives to help young people discern their vocation. There is a discernment retreat every December for men that includes personal and communal prayer, discussion with other young men who are discerning, informational sessions, and the opportunity to talk with current seminarians.
The Office of Vocations also encourages participation of junior high to college age men in the “live-in” weekends at the seminaries the diocese is connected to. The weekends offer the experience of what seminary is like, including attending classes, experiencing the prayer life, participating in community recreation, and learning how to discern their vocation.
The Office of Vowed Religious invites young people to participate in the annual “World Day for Consecrated Life” liturgy.
Along with the other five dioceses of Ohio, the Office of Vocations supports a YouTube channel (Buckeye Vocations) that highlights videos, such as highlights of ordinations, testimonials of seminarians, highlights from mission trips, and more.
Two other initiatives which are highlighted at the end of the report are a summer mission and discernment trip to Cumberland, Kentucky and St. Andrew discernment dinners.
The diocese also shares announcements from the women’s religious communities in the diocese about discernment events, retreats, and other experiences.
Discernment and vocations are topics of workshops and hands-on-learning experiences at the biennial Diocesan Youth Convention and at the National Catholic Youth Conference.
Regarding spiritual guidance:
As reported by the Office of Vocations, clergy are selected to serve as spiritual mentors for men who are discerning a call to the priesthood. The priests use the book To Save a Thousand Souls to guide their monthly meetings, though the exact amount of time spent varies in each case.
In addition, women’s religious communities have vocations directors and spiritual directors who spend many hours with young people to assist their discernment.
Parishes reported a wide range of hours spent on personal spiritual guidance (from 0 to 450) with an average of about 18 hours per parish. It was noted that guidance was also offered within catechetical classes, confirmation preparation, and scouting.
The Office of Vocations reported a variety of print resources for those who provide pastoral vocational guidance. Priests who serve as spiritual mentors for men discerning a call to the priesthood receive the book To Save a Thousand Souls. All priest and deacons received the book Lend Your Own Voice to Christ to help them share their personal vocation story in order to assist young men and women in their vocational discernment. In addition, there is a wealth of printed resources for those discerning, their parents, and those who are spiritually guiding the discerner.
Parish staff reported a variety of ways that they provide vocational guidance, including mentoring, spiritual counseling, encouraging and affirming young people, living as an example, and casual conversations. In addition, many parishes and Catholic schools invite clergy and religious to give talks to students or participate in programs such as the Serra Club “Vocations Cross” wherein families are invited to take the cross into their homes for a week of prayer for vocations.
1. What above affirms or challenges you?
2. Are there opportunities that we missed mentioning in this report?
3. What tools/formation opportunities might be helpful for you to as you spiritually guide young people?
Pray that young people open their minds and hearts to God's calling in their lives, and that when opportunities come around to assist them in this endeavor, they are open to those as well!
Cindee Case, MAPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.