Young Adult Ministry in the Archdiocese. “With” – Not “For”

I recently attended an archdiocesan workshop. The topic was ministry and young adults. 

There has been a Youth Ministry Office at the Archdiocese for years. Archbishop Perez has decided to provide more resources and personnel to widen the ministry. He also is considering a more comprehensive approach towards reaching out to our young people. 

Many of these ministries used to fall under the Office of Education and Catechesis. With a new vision and strategy, the Youth Ministry and Ministry to Young Adults will now fall under the Office of Evangelization and Formation. CYO sports will fall under the Office of Evangelization and Formation as well. The idea is that these programs should bring people into an initial – and closer – relationship with Jesus Christ. That is probably better done with a focus on evangelization. This contrasts with the previous focus on ministry to young people as a teaching ministry.

The team from the Archdiocese outlined several current challenges and issues. Accompaniment and community are topics that are very important to young people. The archdiocese will emphasize this concept in the future. Why? Accompanying people is more important than teaching them. Jesus accompanied people on their journey – when they were going the wrong way. Then he journeyed with them to align them to a new direction. 

 There was an interesting discussion about the phrase “Young Adult Ministry.” This phrase carries a lot of baggage. Young adult ministry and youth ministry have not been overwhelmingly successful. Why? Perhaps because it is not a ministry FOR – but rather WITH young adults. We need to be entering into an idea of “Reactive” Ministry. What is animating them? What are their hopes and dreams? What is important to them? We need to determine that among our young people. We will have to react to what they say. We should encourage them to take the lead in addressing the situation. Let them lead the ministry in a way that seems best to them. It will be sloppy. It will be different. Yet, such an approach is being found to be effective. 

Any ministry with young adults will be different from parish to parish and from county to county. Any “Cookie Cutter” approach will not work. Each parish has a different culture – thus different needs. 

The discussion of ministry with young adults covered other topics. Next time, I’ll outline them. I will also offer three questions that were suggested to help jump-start a conversation with these fine young people. 

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