Some Frequently Asked Questions…
What is Youth Ministry?
Youth Ministry is every effort by the Christian community to reach out to youth with the love of God as revealed to us in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The entire parish does youth ministry by caring for its young people and welcoming them into every aspect of parish life. Oftentimes, some members of the parish specifically focus on running youth-oriented programs that invite teens into a relationship with Christ and His Church. Click Here for much more info!
Why call it “Youth Ministry” and not “CYO” like my parents and grandparents used to?
We call ministry to teens “youth ministry” and not “CYO” because the current understanding of youth ministry is far more comprehensive than the older model of CYO. The CYO of the 1950s and 1960s operated in the context of a Catholic culture–especially Catholic family life, which formed teens into the Catholic community. CYO, therefore, served as a supplement to that Catholic culture, providing primarily social and sporting outlets for Catholic teens. Nowadays, however, teens grow up in a secular culture for the most part. The response of parish youth ministry to this reality has been to fill the gap by providing programs that reach teens on every level: spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically. A typical parish youth ministry today might include: peer ministry, teen leaders, prayer, retreats, service, Catholic Christian formation, fellowship, socializing and athletics. In other words, to call youth ministry today “CYO” could leave some people with the impression that the parish sponsors basketball and dances for teens when in fact there is far more to their youth program.
What does a Youth Minister do?
A youth minister is the point person in the parish for youth ministry. He/she coordinates all the youth programs, trains the youth ministry team in the parish that is made up of adult parishioners, advocates for the needs of youth in the parish, and insures that the vision of the youth outreach remains rooted in the mission of the Church. Most of all though, the youth minister and youth ministry team invest their time into building relationships with the teens of the parish so as to serve as Christ-like role models and people whom the youth can trust as Christian friends and mentors. Therefore, the role of the youth minister is a comprehensive one. The walls of the parish building are not the boundaries of opportunity for for engaging youth ministry opportunities. Good youth ministry invests a lot of time into building relationships with teens and earning the right to invite young people into a deeper experience of faith through youth programs. Ultimately, the youth minister empowers teens and other adults to become disciples and minister to others.
Is there any training available for people interested in doing Youth Ministry?
Training is available for youth ministers or parishioners who are called to do youth ministry in their community. Parishes can send these people to sponsored training from organizations like The Center for Ministry Development or the Diocese of Helena’s very own Program of Formation for Lay Ministers (PFLM). Contact the OYYAM for more details.
Where can I look for more information about Youth Ministry?
The National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry has a web site at www.nfcym.org. Some other helpful sites: www.cmdnet.org, www.ymnetwork.net.
What about vocations to the priesthood, religious life (sisters and brothers) and lay ministry?
The Office of Vocations would be happy to speak with anyone interested in a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. You can contact the Office of Vocations via the Diocese of Helena web site. If you are looking to talk about possible vocations to ministry in the Church, please contact your local parish or the coordinator of a ministry that you are interested in.
What is the U.S. Bishops’ document Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry?
In August of 1997, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a formal statement about youth ministry in the U.S. The Bishops outline three goals for ministry with teens: Youth Ministry seeks to empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today, Youth Ministry seeks to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community, and Youth Ministry works to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person. The Bishops also highlight 8 components of Youth Ministry:
- Ministry of Prayer and Worship
- Ministry of Catechesis
- Ministry of Community Life
- Ministry of Pastoral Care
- Ministry of Justice and Service
- Ministry of Evangelization
- Ministry of Advocacy
- Ministry of Leadership Development
A copy of the Bishops’ document Renewing the Vision (English or Spanish) is available for free through the Diocese of Helena Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Call the office at 1-800-584-8914.
What is the status of youth ministry in the Diocese of Helena?
This is a time of unbelievable renewal. Though the number of full time paid Catholic Youth Ministers is extremely limited, the amount of youth ministry happening in our faith communities is excellent. Many parishes insist on a youth friendly atmosphere with good faith formation and comprehensive teaching. Deaneries have begun to collaborate in an effort to build a bolder faith community and events ministry. The Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry has a full time coordinator (Doug Tooke) and is building upon the long tradition of youth ministry in the Diocese of Helena. Current ares of focus include diocesan youth leadership, Youth Ministry Advisory Council, youth and young adult web interaction, and collaboration with many offices of ministry within the Diocese of Helena. Though the road ahead is steep, the new diocesan pastoral plan is blanketed with faith formation support and program renewal. It is an exciting time for youth ministry in the Diocese of Helena!