by Thomas East with Alejandra Agiolera-Titus, Carolyn Coll, RSM, Ann Marie Eckert, Leif Kehrwald, Sean T. Lanning, Mariette Martineau, Hohm Roberto, Cheryl M. Tholeke
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.Profiles in Catholicism
Leadership for Catholic Youth Ministry is a team project developed by the core staff and key adjunct staff of the Center for Ministry Development after three decades of training, research, and developing resources in Catholic youth ministry
Throughout the documents, and teachings of over three decades of Catholic youth ministry, we see this essential pattern for ministry with young people: provide an encounter with Christ and support youth in their “yes” to the invitation to the adventure of discipleship. This encounter and invitation strengthens the ways that God has walked with young people and their families through childhood and prepares youth for the questions, challenges, and opportunities of adult faithful living. We support youth and their families along this distinctive path that their journey takes during the adolescent years.
To be faithful in our part of facilitating God’s encounter and communicating God’s invitation will take the full breadth of our commitment and resources: we need to cast a wide net. Viewing all youth as God’s beloved means we go beyond serving just those youth who present themselves. We look at the full spectrum of youth in our community from those in need of healing and outreach to the youth who are ready for engagement in witness, ministry, and service. We need to go deep. The vision for Catholic youth ministry as presented by the United States Catholic Bishops in Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry and in the National Directory for Catechesis focuses on the call to youth in the adventure of discipleship. The consistent messages to young people by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Days have been about challenge and going beyond the expectations of popular culture. Youth are hungry for the challenge of discipleship. They long to experience an invitation that is bold and big enough for their life’s dreams and visions. Our efforts in youth ministry should feed that hunger and help youth to grow deeply in their faith.
We need to make it personal. Youth long to experience God in a personal way and to feel personally invited and connected to the faith community. To be personal does not mean that we organize ministries around our personality. Making it personal means that, as a community we strive to make a personal connection with youth as we help them know Jesus in a variety of ways. We need to put all of our oars in the water, going the same direction. When faith communities bicker over methodologies and compete for perceived limitations in resources, facilities, and time, we end up going in circles in our efforts for pastoral ministry with youth. Effective youth ministry requires the concerted, collaborative, and coordinated efforts of a faith community that longs to become Christ’s love incarnate in the lives of young people today. This book is designed to guide leaders as they recall the vision for Catholic youth ministry and seek to make this vision a reality for youth in their parish school, diocese, and youth-serving agency. The challenge of discipleship – of following Jesus –is at the heart of the Church’s mission. All ministry with adolescents must be directed toward presenting young people with the Good News of Jesus Christ and inviting and challenging them to become his disciples. If we are to succeed, we must offer young people a spiritually challenging and world-shaping vision that meets their hunger for the chance to participate in a worthy adventure. United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, p.10.