In these paragraphs Pope Francis identifies two paths for fruitful “Youth Ministry.” His Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (which can be found on this link at the Vatican site) first looks at the proclamation of Christ. Don’t be concerned about that word kerygma. Eventually, it’s one worth grasping and using, though maybe not literally with youth in their first hearing from you.
213. Any educational project or path of growth for young people must certainly include formation in Christian doctrine and morality. It is likewise important that it have two main goals. One is the development of the kerygma, the foundational experience of encounter with God through Christ’s death and resurrection. The other is growth in fraternal love, community life and service.
If you think young people still in Church have moved beyond that initial proclamation of Christ, you are likely wrong. At best they have heard it on the level of a child.
214. This was something I emphasized in Evangelii Gaudium, and I consider it worth repeating here. It would be a serious mistake to think that in youth ministry “the kerygma should give way to a supposedly more ‘solid’ formation. Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation. All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma”[no 165] and incarnating it ever more fully in our lives.
This isn’t meant to disparage religious education as conducted in schools or parishes. It suggests something more is needed to complete the approach. Pope Francis suggests that “indoctrination” is not the way. Some are threatened by that? Are you? Does it suggest more thought and prayer can be put into how we approach the proclamation of the Gospel?
Consequently, youth ministry should always include occasions for renewing and deepening our personal experience of the love of God and the living Christ. It can do this in a variety of ways: testimonies, songs, moments of adoration, times of spiritual reflection on the sacred Scriptures, and even an intelligent use of social networks. Yet this joyful experience of encounter with the Lord should never be replaced by a kind of “indoctrination”.
This aspect is much stronger and fruitful in parishes:
215. On the other hand, any program of youth ministry should clearly incorporate various means and resources that can help young people grow in fraternity, to live as brothers and sisters, to help one another, to build community, to be of service to others, to be close to the poor. If fraternal love is the “new commandment” (Jn 13:34), “the fullness of the Law” (Rom 13:10) and our best way of showing our love for God, then it has to have a primary place in every project of youth formation and growth to maturity.
… but its frequency doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from an honest assessment with an eye to improvement. Any comments?
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