Monday, December 04, 2006

Here’s the news...

Here’s the news from the Director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), Bob McCarty, as delivered during the opening gathering of our conference this year. I’m rewriting it from Scott’s notes from that session, with my own comments.

He says that there have been three significant shifts in youth ministry in the 25 years that the Federation has been in existence.

1. The shift from “A Vision of Youth Ministry” to “Renewing The Vision”; these are the documents produced by the US Catholic Bishops in the late 70’s and then the 1990’s. The image that was central to the Vision document was Emmaus, Christ’s walk with his disciples, the presence of Christ in the body of a human who was a stranger to them. In Renewing, the central image was less of ministering to kids and more about leading them and preparing them to take on their own role of discipleship.
2. The shift in methodology from Youth Groups to many groupings of and for youth. It’s a change from one-size-fits-all ministry to comprehensive ministry for every young person in a parish community, even if they never darken the door of the Church. EVERY kid, even those who wouldn’t be caught dead at a youth group meeting.
3. The shift in emphasis. Central to youth ministry in the past was “creating a sense of community”- a process of bringing in. Today’s youth ministers know that only a small fraction of our ministry can happen in the church building, because only a fraction of a young person’s time is spent in church. Creating one more community in amongst kids lives, already full of temporary and permanent communities like teams, clubs, and organizations is not the goal anymore. Instead, our focus has shifted to that of evangelization and catechesis, and an emphasis on service and justice. Instead of bringing in, our goal is sending out.

He also reminded us of three challenges that currently face our ministries and professions:

1. We must shift our efforts from considering ourselves missionaries to youth, and instead realize the call to be advocates for youth in our parishes, church, and society.
2. The comprehensive approach to Youth Ministry is a model we have not quite figured out how to do yet- the challenge is still with us to “do church right for kids”. The focus we were charged with was to present a catechesis of head, hand, and heart, rooted and anchored in a spiritual home.
3. The renewal of parish life is a challenge in our ministries. No longer are we “youth ministers”, but we must consider ourselves pastoral ministers to all generations, because we know that adolescents do not thrive, nor live, in a generational vacuum. Parish life has taken a “hit” from the rocky path set before us at Vatican Two. Again, the vision for renewal at the parish level is on the horizon- we see how it might look, but it remains far off, and something to be worked toward.

There is good good news, and there are challenges and hard work to be done. The most encouraging news of all is this Youth Ministry community, over 2500 strong at this convention. Work and study and teaching are being done and they will change the future for our ministries, our parishes, and our Church. Youth Ministry is doing a lot of things well. The future is bright.

4 comments:

"Totally Confused" (so what's new) said...

you say two things = "Youth Ministry is doing a lot of things well. The future is bright." and "No longer are we “youth ministers”, but we must consider ourselves pastoral ministers to all generations." = that seem to contradict each other.

Sounds like they are forseeing turning specialists into general practicioners. If you are no longer a Youth Minister but instead an all generational pastoral minister, is that a promotion? Are you now a "Lay-Priest"?

This will just have to continue in my own space (I shouldn't be blogging on your blog!)

HerMajesty00 said...

"We must shift our efforts from considering ourselves missionaries to youth, and instead realize the call to be advocates for youth in our parishes, church, and society."
I like this thought. When do you ever hear about teenagers building homes, or helping the elderly, or raising funds for Africa.
Do any of us even have a Youth section in our weekly bulletin that highlights what the kids are doing in our parish and community?

margmor said...

I don't think it's contradictory. The thing is, the parent is supposed to be the primary educator of kids, passing on the faith to their own children and we are supposed to be their support. The state of families today (in general) is that many parents don't know a lot about the faith they're supposed to be passing on- but instead of supporting them and enabling them to do their job, we YM's have taken to doing it all for them. The goal is immersion, inculturation, of youth in the community- which can't be done if we just pull all the kids in one age group into the basement once a week.

margmor said...

I have a youth ministry column! And at a former parish we had a bulletin board titled "newsworthy" and it was a ministry of a parishoner to look through the local paper each week and cut out good news items about our kids, so we could post it there. I hope we'll get that going at my current parish too!