EG 105: Youth Ministry

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis turns an eye to youth ministry in Evangelii Gaudium. We should carefully listen to this.

105. Youth ministry, as traditionally organized, has also suffered the impact of social changes. Young people often fail to find responses to their concerns, needs, problems and hurts in the usual structures. As adults, we find it hard to listen patiently to them, to appreciate their concerns and demands, and to speak to them in a language they can understand. For the same reason, our efforts in the field of education do not produce the results expected. The rise and growth of associations and movements mostly made up of young people can be seen as the work of the Holy Spirit, who blazes new trails to meet their expectations and their search for a deep spirituality and a more real sense of belonging. There remains a need, however, to ensure that these associations actively participate in the Church’s overall pastoral efforts.[Cf. Propositio 51]

Youth ministry does suffer when it becomes a self-contained subsystem within a faith community. I’ve known many college students who wish their association with NCYC could continue. At what point do we begin a conversation about mainstreaming young people into parishes and directing the efforts of youth ministries to accomplish this? And more importantly, how do we convince adults outside of youth ministry to make the effort to listen?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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