What comes to mind when you see or hear the term, “Youth Ministry?” In one of the longest chapters of the Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (which can be found on this link at the Vatican site) we’ll get the viewpoint of Pope Francis. We might as well begin reading:
202. Youth ministry, as traditionally carried out, has been significantly affected by social and cultural changes. Young people frequently fail to find in our usual programmes a response to their concerns, their needs, their problems and issues. The proliferation and growth of groups and movements predominantly associated with the young can be considered the work of the Holy Spirit who constantly shows us new paths. Even so, there is a need to look at the ways such groups participate in the Church’s overall pastoral care, as well as a need for greater communion among them and a better coordination of their activities.
Campus parishes in North America are often equipped to address these “new paths.” In mine, we were able to divide ministry concerns between our undergraduates (for most of the effort), but also distinguish ministry to high school adolescents (traditional “youth ministry” in the US) and to young adults out of school.
Although it is never easy to approach young people, two things have become increasingly evident: the realization that the entire community has to be involved in evangelizing them, and the urgent requirement that young people take on a greater role in pastoral outreach.
This is important. One cannot assign young people to a ministry ghetto, and permit clergy, parents, and parishioners to delegate a youth minister to service. And even more importantly, peer ministry between the three groups, and indeed within them, is vital.
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