244. At the Synod, “many pointed to the shortage of qualified people devoted to accompaniment.
Is this true? Parishes hire youth ministers in my experience. Of course, in places where I’ve been hired, if music and liturgy is a professional priority, youth ministry usually is too. Is a warm and caring body enough?
Belief in the theological and pastoral value of listening entails rethinking and renewing the ways that priestly ministry is ordinarily exercised, and reviewing its priorities. The Synod also recognized the need to train consecrated persons and laypeople, male and female, to accompany young people. The charism of listening that the Holy Spirit calls forth within the communities might also receive institutional recognition as a form of ecclesial service”.[FD 9]
I note the importance given to listening. Is it a charism? I think so. Is it essential for “accompaniment”? Definitely.
As I experience the Church in the US, I think there are vanishing opportunities for forming people in ministry. For the opportunities that do exist, a question: are people formed (not just “trained”) in listening and accompaniment? I was fortunate to have a course in discernment when I was in grad school. Many of my colleagues in ministry (perhaps especially in music) seem to lack this. And many parishes draw upon people like the “cool parents” to oversee youth activities. Parish pastors, for the most part, seem ill-equipped to form parish leaders. Additionally, the recent emphasis on “orthodoxy” in some quarters tends to produce more rigidity in youth ministry. Orthodoxy as such is not a bad thing. But it is not at the forefront of what is needed in working with young people today.
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