Definition of Catholic Youth Ministry
The definition of youth ministry offered by the Bishops is formed by our love for and our commitment to youth: youth have needs we care for and gifts to share. “Youth ministry is the response of the Christian community to the needs of young people and the sharing of the unique gifts of youth with the larger community” (RTV 1).
The Bishops remind us to see within youth the incredible potential and capacities they have now and to respond to their present and real needs. Youth ministry does not exist because youth are particularly troubled or needy. Youth are growing in ways intended by our loving God. They are encountering the joys and the challenges of life as adolescents in our time. They have wonderful gifts to offer in the midst of their growing pains. We minister to youth because we are church and we follow the pattern of Jesus: we respond to needs and empower youth to use and share their gifts.
Three Goals of Catholic Youth Ministry
In Renewing the Vision, three goals serve as directions for ministry with youth.
Goal 1: Empowerment
To empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today. (RTV 9)
We know that young people are seeking. Youth seek to find the adventure of their lifetime. They look for a way to contribute something important to the world. They look for a cause to belong to, a cause to throw their life into. As a faith community, we offer young people the challenge of life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This effort includes…
* providing a spiritually challenging and world shaping vision for life.
* evangelizing youth, drawing youth into personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
* calling youth to discipleship.
* providing opportunities for youth to join in service, ministry and leadership.
* providing catechesis for youth.
* helping youth to explore their vocation.
Goal 2: Participation
To draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community. (RTV 11)
We know that young people are striving to be part of a community. They long to belong to others. They want to feel connected to people with whom they will feel safe. As a Church, we offer young people community. We help them to become more connected in their own families, in our parishes and in the wider community.
Renewing the Vision identifies four important faith communities for young people: the family, the parish, the Catholic school, and the youth-serving organization. We help youth connect to a network of support in their various communities. This effort includes…
- supporting families of youth by providing resources, programs and information;
- integrating youth into the life of the parish community;
- promoting belonging in the Catholic school community;
- building participation in youth-serving organizations.
Goal 3: Growth
To foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person. (RTV 15)
We know that young people are growing. This time in their life brings dramatic physical, social, intellectual and spiritual changes. As the body of Christ, we offer youth a place to grow. We offer experiences and opportunities for youth to grow in positive ways, to learn their faith and use their gifts in service to others. As a community, we use our creativity and resources to respond to youth that are seeking, striving and growing. We foster this growth through our active engagement of youth in the life of our communities. We seek to…
- support the development of healthy, competent, caring and faith-filled youth.
- address their unique developmental, social and religious needs.
- foster positive adolescent development.
- promote Catholic identity.
address the obstacles and challenges to healthy development.