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.