Recent research shows that young people value authentic relationships now more than ever. Adolescents in our parishes and schools need to feel like they belong in our Catholic faith communities. Joy-filled disciples should accompany young people, and it is time to rise to the occasion.
In “Christus Vivit,” Pope Francis highlights the importance of accompanying young people, “All should regard young people with understanding, appreciation, and affection, and avoid constantly judging them or demanding of them a perfection beyond their years” (243). In this document, he affirms intentional ministry with young people, which can take many forms. Connecting with young people can occur through anything from purposeful conversations and personal invitations to parish or school events including opportunities to connect with others.
Anyone who focuses on ministry with the adolescent age group (from sixth through twelfth grade) should attend a formation opportunity on September 23-24, 2022 that will focus on building relationships with young people and helping them grow in relationship with God. It is a great opportunity for priests, deacons, youth ministers, middle school ministers, their volunteers, young adult ministers, parish catechetical leaders (including discipleship formation and family ministry directors), high school campus ministers, theology teachers, athletic coaches and any others who minister to the adolescent age group.
Inspired by the story of Eli mentoring Samuel (1 Samuel 3:8), participants will take time to explore where young people currently are, the relationships they have and how parish and school ministries can foster opportunities for authentic connection and growth in friendship with the Lord.
The Engaging the Young Church Conference will feature keynote presentations and workshops, prayer, small group discussions, Mass on Friday and breakfast and lunch each day. Participants are encouraged to attend both days of the conference, however, it is designed to be accessible for people who can only participate for one day, on Friday or Saturday.
Our young people should feel welcomed and valued. By personally acknowledging and empowering our youth, our Catholic parishes and schools become a place of authentic community and belonging. We hope you join us for this upcoming opportunity to learn about empowering others to intentionally connect, build relationships and accompany the young church. Please register in advance. Through meaningful encounters, our younger and older adolescents can grow along a personal discipleship path while being valued in a caring, Catholic community.