I am so grateful for the group leaders who processed forms and invited teens and chaperones from the 31 parishes and two Catholic high schools to be part of the recent Diocesan Youth Convention 2014: Amazed! My appreciation also goes to our DYC'14 Planning Team, speakers, activity leaders, and volunteers. It was a day filled with inspiration, prayer, learning, celebration and fun.
However, it was only one day. Hopefully a wonderful day, but just one day. The impact will only be made if the participants take time to ponder and process; if this was a step along the faith journey to be continued.
Most of the responsibility for facilitating this falls to the parents and parish ministers. Taking time to talk with and listen to participants is key. Some of the same questions we ask during and immediately following a big event can be repeated:
--what did you like most about the DYC?
-- what can you recall from the keynote speaker's presentation (Mary Lou Beers) -- did anything from her story inspire you to hold on to your faith?
-- talk about the workshops attended -- what was new? With what did you agree or disagree? Did you learn of any new resources or tools?
-- talk about the Amazing Connections stations: what did you do? See? Win? Who did you meet and what do they do?
Is there anything you want to know more about?
-- what did you like about celebrating Mass with a larger community of your peers?
In the DYC'14 closing session, you might recall that everyone was asked to note some commitment that will be made in the next week, month or season (page 11 of the program book.) Ask how their commitment is going? Maybe a few of the teens and chaperones would be willing to share what they wrote and what resulted?
In an example given by emcee Kevin, it proposed that someone who attended the "Chosen" workshop or labeled bars of soap at the S.O.A.P. Project table would take time to visit the website for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking (http://collaborativeinitiative.org/). Perhaps this then becomes a topic for discussion and prayer at your parish?
As more time passes, perhaps you can still 'check in' with participants to see if new insights have occurred to them from anything they experienced on November 2nd. Remember that some people are extroverted and ready to talk about an experience immediately, while others need time to process and think.
(You should do similar processing for all "big" or special events such as a mission trip, conference, rally, service project, etc.)
To help support your local efforts, please remember that the diocese is working as well by posting on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram) and continuing to add new content to website created solely for DYC'14 follow up:
Life is filled with ups and downs, emotionally rewarding and draining, experiences. If we as ministers only get the teens to the 'highs' then we do a dis-service. We need to help them connect the "highs' to 'flat' and 'low' times. They need to be reminded of 'good times' to help carry them through the boring and 'bad times.' And, like our Amazing God, we must continue the faith journey with them!
Cindee Case, MAPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.