Every year, the Engaging the Young Church Conference gives ministers across the diocese the opportunity to come together, learn from leaders in youth ministry and faith formation, and consider new and effective ways forward in the evangelization and catechesis of young people in the Catholic Church.
This year’s conference, held virtually on September 25th and 26th, saw great success and reignition in ministerial energy and commitment, even — and perhaps especially — in the face of a global virus. Not even a pandemic can stop a joyful missionary disciple.
The conference featured presentations from Bp. Arturo Cepeda, Auxiliary Bishop and Northwest Regional Moderator, and Dan DeMatte, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Damascus Catholic Mission , affirming the importance of engaging and empowering young people and the strength of our mission of proclaiming the good news.
“Engaging the Young Church Conference is one of my favorite opportunities to be equipped, inspired and ready to take on another year of ministering to the youth at my parish,” said Julie Cavanaugh, Coordinator of Youth Ministry at St. Patrick Parish in White Lake . “While the gathering took place online and our social networking occurred in square Zoom boxes rather than across round tables, the content was amazing! The pre-conference videos allowed me to indulge in all the breakout sessions and experience all the keynote talks at my own pace.”
Even virtually, participants spent time on Friday and Saturday in small groups for reflection, discussion, and dynamic prayer and music. Participants also had the option to attend bonus sessions on topics such as middle school ministry, the importance of personal discipline as a minister, bringing peace to young people, evangelization within the family, and more.
Keynote speaker Dan DeMatte also challenged participants to think about new techniques in evangelization and catechesis of young people, expressing the need to shift mindsets away from “coaching” simply toward Confirmation and focus on “coaching” toward discipleship. He addressed challenges such as learning to lead when someone else is in charge and knowing how to influence bodies of leaders in faithfulness to the call of youth ministry.
Marilyn Trumper-Samra, Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish was especially moved listening to DeMatte. “I was jazzed up and energized listening to all that he's done and all that he hopes to do. He's not so far removed from the trenches that he doesn't know what our day is like - and he creatively welcomes us into his day to give us a view of where things can go,” she says. “Truly when he asks for God's favor - he has been heard! Favor - that's my big take away! A new way to pray. An enhancement to my relationship with God! A new way to invite the Holy Spirit to lead me!”
This year’s Engaging the Young Church Conference truly instilled in ministers the impact that effective youth ministry can have on a person’s discipleship even from a young age. The mission does not begin in adulthood; ministers can be models of prayer to young people, and young people can model these ideas to each other as well! Parents, friends, and family members alike can be encouraged and equipped to be on mission together.
Share any key lessons or inspiration you took from the Engaging the Young Church Conference in our Encounter Grow Witness online community !