"What is needed today is a Church which knows how to respond to the expectations of young people. Jesus wants to enter into dialogue with them and, through his Body which is the Church, to propose the possibility of a choice which will require a commitment of their lives. As Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus, so the Church must become today the traveling companion of young people" (Pope John Paul II,
Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the XXXII World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 1995, Vatican City). Youth ministry is most importantly an affirmation of the faith, gifts, energy, and fresh ideas of young people. It is a Christ-centered ministry. It is a call to empower young people for the mission they have been given by the Lord Jesus, a mission to always be "missionary disciples" (Evangelii Gaudium, 120). It is a ministry where the whole Church can meet the challenge of providing "coming generations with reasons for living and hoping" (Gaudium et Spes, 31). In turn, "young people [can become] street preachers (callejeros de la fe), joyfully bringing Jesus to every street, every town square and every corner of the earth" (Evangelii Gaudium, 106).Because these youth ministry guidelines are rooted in the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document "Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry," the philosophy of this framework is explained by the following foundational themes:Developmentally Appropriate - Human development and growth in faith is a lifelong journey. Effective ministry with adolescents provides developmentally appropriate experiences, programs, activities, strategies, resources, content, and processes to address the unique developmental and social needs of young and older adolescents both as individuals and as members of families.
Family Friendly (Households of Faith) - The home is a primary context for sharing, celebrating, and living the Catholic faith. The Church partners with parents/guardians, who form households of faith in developing the faith life of their adolescent children.
Intergenerational (Whole Community) - Meaningful involvement in parish life and the development of intergenerational relationships provide young people with rich resources to learn the story of the Catholic faith experientially and to develop a sense of belonging to the Church.
Multicultural - Ministry with adolescents is multicultural because of the very nature of the archdiocese. Multicultural awareness among all youth and the community and the experience of being part of a diverse community must be integrated into all aspects of this ministry. An appreciation of all cultures is vital to any solid ministry to young people.
Community-Wide Collaboration - Ministry with adolescents involves creating healthier civic communities for all young people. This involves networking with leaders in congregations of diverse faith traditions, all schools, youth-serving agencies, and community organizations to nurture a shared commitment to promoting healthy adolescent development and a healthy community, to develop mutual respect and understanding, to share resources, and to plan community-wide efforts and programs.Leadership - Ministry with adolescents mobilizes all the resources of the faith community in a comprehensive and integrated approach involving a wide diversity of adult and youth leaders in a variety of roles necessary for comprehensive ministry.
Flexible and Adaptable Programming - Ministry with adolescents creates flexible and adaptable program structures that address the changing needs and life situations of today's young people and their families within a particular community. These potential program structures might include but are not limited to a diversity of program settings, age-specific programs, intergenerational programs, community-wide programs, small group programs, home-based programs, mentor programs, use of current technology, etc.
Three interdependent and equally important goals guide the Church's ministry with young people. These goals state what it means for the Catholic community to respond to the needs of young people and to involve young people in sharing their unique gifts with the larger community. They express the Church's focus for ministry with all adolescents, while encouraging local creativity in developing the programs, activities, and strategies to reach these goals (Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, 9).
For all ministries to and with young people, these goals will be the fundamental foundation:
To empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today
To draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community
To foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person
Ministry with adolescents in parishes and high schools utilizes each of the Church's ministries—advocacy, catechesis, community life, evangelization, justice and service, leadership development, pastoral care, and prayer and worship—in an integrated approach to achieve the three goals for ministry. These components provide a framework for the Catholic community to respond to the needs of young people and to involve young people in sharing their unique gifts with the larger community. They provide a structure for the Church's ministry with adolescents while encouraging local creativity in developing programs, activities, and strategies for each component. The
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said, "We have learned that no one strategy, activity, or program is adequate to the task of promoting the three goals for ministry with adolescents and that families, parishes, and schools cannot work in isolation if the Church is to realize its goals" (Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, 19). This comprehensive approach is a framework for integration rather than a specific model. Each ministry component supports and enhances the others. A comprehensive ministry with adolescents provides balance among eight components. This balance is achieved throughout a year or a season of programming. Even a single program or strategy can incorporate several of the ministry components, as in the case of a
retreat program.The eight components of a comprehensive ministry include:Advocacy
Interpret the needs of youth and their families, especially the social problems facing them, and act with or on behalf of youth and their families for change in the systems that create or contribute to the social problems.
Give young people a voice and empower them to address the social problems that they face.
Promote young people's growth in Christian faith as a living reality through the kind of teaching and learning that emphasizes understanding, reflection, and transformation.
Foster in youth a communal identity as Catholic Christians within the intergenerational community of faith and help them to develop their own personal faith identity through systematic, planned, and intentional programming/curriculum.
Create an environment that nurtures meaningful relationships characterized by Gospel values among youth and between youth and adults.
Help young people feel like a valued part of the Church.
Provide opportunities for social interaction and meaningful participation in the church, school, and civic community.
Proclaim through word and witness the good news of the Gospel to youth who have not yet heard or seen it and invite them into a relationship with Jesus Christ and the community of believers.
Reach out to young people who are uninvolved in the life of the community, as the faith community attempts to live out the Gospel with such authenticity that the faith of all the members is sustained and nourished.
Justice, Peace, and Service
Guide young people in the development of a social consciousness and a commitment to a life of justice and service grounded in their faith in Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, and Catholic social teaching.
Empower young people (and their families) to work for justice by concrete efforts to address the causes of human suffering, to serve those in need, to pursue peace, and to defend the life, dignity, and rights of all people.
Infuse the concepts of justice and peace into all youth ministry efforts.
Recruit, train, and support youth and adult leaders in youth ministry.
Empower youth for leadership and ministry with their peers in their schools, the Church, and the civic community.
Develop a leadership team of youth and adults to organize and coordinate a ministry with youth.
Partner with parents/guardians and families in promoting positive youth development and faith growth.
Promote positive youth and family development through a variety of preventative strategies.
Care for youth and families in crisis through support, counseling, and referral to appropriate community agencies.
Provide guidance as youth face life decisions and make moral choices.
Prayer and Worship
Assist young people in deepening their relationship with Jesus through the development of a personal prayer life.
Provide a variety of prayer and worship experiences with youth to deepen and celebrate their relationship with Jesus in a caring Christian community.
Involve young people in the sacramental life of the Church.
4 Confirmation Preparation "To be young is to be attracted to truth, justice, freedom, peace, beauty and goodness. To be young means being eager to live, but to live joyfully, meaningfully" (Pope John Paul II,
Address of Pope John Paul II to the Young People, 1984, Korea).Maturing in Christian faith is a lifelong journey. Confirmation preparation is a process in Christian growth based on the belief that adolescents are at a significant point in their faith journey where they are beginning to establish a personal faith identity. Through sharing their own journey and interactions with others, the candidates are assisted in identifying and understanding how God is working in their lives, and come to a new realization of faith within the context of the whole parish community. The confirmation preparation process must be part of a comprehensive ministry with young people.Since the confirmation preparation process is a source of renewal for the whole parish community, it supports the involvement of the parish, including priests, parents/guardians, families, sponsors, other ministries, youth peer leaders, catechetical teams, and all youth of the community. Each parish is encouraged to implement the above philosophy of this process by developing a model that responds to the specific needs of their youth. The goals of confirmation preparation are:
Specifically, "preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit…in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community. The latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of confirmands" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1309).For more detailed information, see
Resources for the Confirmation Process.