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October 31, 2005

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Jacob

I should find the link to my critique of my confirmation/high school CCD experience.

MrsDarwin

At one point in my youth I traveled with a retreat team that did skits and put on weekends for teenagers. We'd have talks and do our show and pray over the kids, and it was very emotional -- lots of tears and such. Plenty of kids came forward to give their lives to Christ. But since it was primarily an emotional experience with no grounding, there was a high recidivism rate. Oddly enough, I hated attending such retreats as a teenager, even though I helped put them on.

You're right that any smart teen can see through the "teen moment". Teen Masses and pep rallies and devotional activities are often noxious dumbed-down versions of Catholicism, and, I think, serve to turn kids off more than build them up. Just my opinion, though.

fbc

Gee, ya think maybe Vatican II was a wrong turn ...

Oh, what's the use?

Nevermind.

Becky

I've seen a bunch of good programs, even in my limited experience. The most effective are those that adopt some part of the Lifeteen programs (minus the crazy teen Masses and sometimes irreverent skits), and have a healthy liturgical life. The group I was involved in prays the Liturgy of the Hours with the kids constantly. Every retreat, workcamp, hiking adventure is centered around daily Mass and morning prayer/evening prayer/night prayer. Weekly Adoration is also a part of the program. These activities really ground the kids and show them the dignity and depth of the Catholic faith. This group gets close to 100 kids out to the Sunday night programs, and I've seen many of them go off to college and remain very strong in their faith.

Just wanted to put in a good word for the awesome programs I've seen work in the last 7 years or so. It's a far cry from what's going on in Canada, where there are virtually no paid Catholic youth ministers, and the youth are forced to join Protestant programs.

Steve

This was several years ago, but I ended up leaving the youth group at my parent's non-denominational church and started going to one of the adult sunday school classes.

It was a primarily selfish move on my part, but there was no real meat to the youth group. Games, hangouts, friends, but nothing that really grabbed you and helped you go deeper.

Jacob

Fbc, I don't think Vatican II was necessarily a wrong turn. I think that a lot of programs in the US simply don't teach Vatican II at all.

They teach what they think is justified under Vatican II, but they don't actually teach Vatican II. When I was in CCD, we never heard about Vatican II specifically at all.

Mark

I have worked in youth ministry for over 14 years now. I have been the full-time youth minister at a parish in the Philly suburbs for the past three years. I must say that youth ministry is most successful when the parents are "on board." The teens that come from homes where the faith is vibrantly lived are the ones who are hungry for more. I have a number of teens in our youth group who have been homeschooled for much of their lives and they are the ones who are discipling their peers, even those who have been through Catholic schools. That being said, I believe that adult faith conversion will have a tremendous trickle down effect on our teens.

Rich Leonardi

Re: teens and catechesis.

By and large, teens, especially the "hard to reach" intelligent ones, are jaded, skeptical, and irony-filled.

IMHO, most attempts at "connecting" with them come off as contrived and square. I know of very few authors or presenters who can pull it off without seeming contrived. (Amy is a notable exception.)

Meeting people "where they live" most often guarantees they never go anywhere. That's how my generation was catechized, and I've now lost count of how many of my friends schooled K-12 in Catholic institutions have lapsed.

That's why I think JPII famously succeeded with teens; he didn't treat them as anything other than what the they were, Christian adults in formation. But as one man, there was only so much he could do.

The rich cultural patrimony that is theirs for the taking also can serve as an inspiration. Who wouldn't be inspired by the story of an Athanasius or a Paul Miki or a Margaret Clitheroe? Do our Catholic teens know whose shoulders they stand upon?

I don't think we ought to reinforce the notion that it's "all about" getting in touch with our feelings and establishing a personal relationship with Jesus. I think many Catholic parents, terrified that their children will listen to the siren song of the evangelicals, fall into this trap. Formation is -- or at least ought to be -- like sculpture; you chip away with hammer and chisel and by grace you are transformed. That requires time, effort, study and prayer.

Of course as parents we must couple that tradition with a life of personal witness. A friend of mine shared a fascinating anecdote with me the other day. His father-in-law is dying of cancer, and my friend, who married young, clearly admires this man. He told me that as a urologist, his father-in-law refused to perform vasectomies, leaving untold thousands of dollars on the operating table.

Who is going to inspire a teen to take his faith more seriously, that courageous urologist or the guy who jokes about getting "snipped" as though it's a trip to a naughty barber shop?

My $.02.

Iosephus

Amy, I couldn't agree more: the most charitable critique of the teen ministry is that it is not so much is there as what is missing.

Anne-Marie

Spot on, Amy!
Notice that the programs Becky describes have exactly what is missing from the Teen Moment-based activities: a connection to the broader Church, both now and in history.

But I'm not sure it's fair to single out teen ministry for this critique. I don't think the Teen Moment approach springs out suddenly in high school, following eight years of teaching kids the faith in the context of the cultural, historical, mystical Body of Christ.

Anne-Marie

Does anyone have any experience with the Dead Theologians Society? It sounds from their webpage like good solid fun (or good fun solidity):

http://www.deadtheologianssociety.com

(Sorry, I don't know hoe to post links that show up clickable. Is there a Typepad tutorial somewhere?)

fathersteven

A wise priest once said that "What do the people want?" is the wrong question to form the basis of ministry. The proper question is "Who are these people called to become?" Answer that and you'll find a successful program.
This summer an article in the Kansas City Star reported on an Evangelical Christian youth camp which turned away from the emotional pep rally type gatherings because they were considered outdated and "manipulative. "Emotions," one person said, "create commitments that don't last." They now have Stations of the Cross, Taize' worship and tapes of Gregorian chant played during meals. Time was also offered for silent meditation.

As a priest who was a high school chaplain for three years and a pastor for five this has always been a great struggle. While agreeing that success comes when parents come on board I would be more specific by contending that success is possible when fathers are actively involved in the program.

Kevin Jones

An additional problem for youth groups is similar to one the boy scouts have: sometimes they're dumping grounds for troublemaking kids, brought there by parents who hope the program will somehow shape them up.

Stephen

I come from two experiences. First, I come from the traditional Youth Ministry experience in the US. I've seen everything from the hang out youth group to the Steubenville Youth Conference model, to now, LifeTeen. Full disclosure, I'm a Youth Minister in a parish in suburban DC.

Quite frankly, I think most Youth Ministry is a bunch of BS. I agree with the assertio that emotions create commitments that don't last. I also think that for the most part Youth Ministry still doesn't "get it."

I also have another experience which emerges out of my involvement with teens in Communion and Liberation through the "Gioventu Studentesca" or "Student Youth" that we call "GS."

In GS I have seen everything Amy is looking for in a "youth ministry" (though we would shudder to think of ourselves as such). I have seen kids who almost without fail continue and mature in their faith from high school to young adulthood. These kids are amazing, and not in the "they're so holy" kind of way, but because they really take the questions seriously.

As a youth minister I struggle. My parish does LifeTeen. The kids have had an expereince and we have 60 something kids attending every week. There is a shallowness there that is disturbing. We have numbers but not a real faith. Going deeper isn't easy. Changing things isn't easy. In the end, the ortho-praxis of the orthodoxy in youth ministry is difficult.

What is the right road? I don't know, but I know that it is worth struggling with, worth being in front of.

I keep telling myself that finding gold requires going through mud. And that mud is actually a part of gold finding, it's essential to it. I can't curse the mud or stop at it, in fact, I have to kind of love it because it's the medium through which the Gold is always found. This is God's method. His divinity is essentially linked to the humanity of his church.

c matt

Stephen - sounds like you nailed the problem. Most YM programs seem a mile wide and an inch deep - constant "activities" - pizza gatherings, volleyball, trips hither and yon - but very little in the way of asking - and answering - the big questions with full answers. It is difficult in a sound bite culture to get beyond that. Deep thinking requires a lot of work and commitment. I always found it odd that we expect our teens to master calculus, cell biology and Shakespeare, but seem to expect no more than middle school level theology of them.

Plato's Stepchild

Plato's Stepshowoff is seriously considering trying to focus his midlife crisis career change into teaching High School Theology.

I am trying to determine if I should use an Ignatian style retreat to discern this or simply use Karl Keating/Catholic Answers approach of plunging in headfirst.

The lack of a teacher's certificate and any formal theosophical training is a bit of an uh impediment.

Having typed this, I hear the shadowed whisper of Sir John Gielgud saying:

"I'll alert the media, sir" and then gently turning the page. Call it a Bertie Wooster moment.

Dan Vitz

I feel pretty confident in saying that the "youth" movement in general in the Catholic Church is a pretty shabby affair. I agree that the word "pandering" is an excellent way of phrasing it. Most youth groups seem predicated on the assumption that the youth of today lack any real desire (much less a need) to be rooted in the sacraments, for substantive discussion on theology, or for a reverent liturgy focused on the transcedent. Rather, the prevailing assumption seems to be that the only thing that will involve young people today is a focus on themselves, and much of what they do reflects this--masses rife with cringe-worthy praise music, emotional rather than substantive sermons remarkable for their lack of catechetical instruction, activities rather than adoration, and so on. Frankly, most of the devout young people I know have a greater desire to draw from the tradition of their faith, and would far prefer to focus on the immutable truths and tradition of Catholicism...

dilys

A lot of parents seem to want the church to supply entertainment, a sports field, that is, or whatever the children say they want.

On the other hand, I have noticed several teens hanging out on the edge of a few adult coffee-hour conversations that were intensely discussing the Liturgy and other foundational issues. This makes me think that an after-Church gathering to debrief the Mass experience and other questions and thoughts would be successful, if they treated the participants as adults-in-formation, rather than "our children." Who need entertainment. If they created high-caliber adult conversations for growing children to listen to and interrupt.

They're not fooled. And not impressed by shallow unhappy adults. And I sometimes wonder if parents want appealing programs for their children if it makes other adults look Really Good.

I'm not a parent, so may be missing the appeal of church-based entertainment just to keep the kids out of mischief.

marie

This will sound like unspeakable heresy. But all teen-aged people are not at the same level of intellectual and emotional development, nor do they all have equivalent religious educations. If youth ministers really want to "reach the kids where they're at", then they need to take account of this fact. When some in the high school group don't know that there are new and old testaments and others have been seriously studying church documents, where do you begin when you've got less than two hours a week and everybody will be confirmed at the end of the year? So we get community building activities with a heavy dose of emotionalism because the project of actually educating all these kids in a serious way seems impossible. We musn't demand anything of them - like reading - because that will turn too many off. Nobody gets much of anything that will nourish them for the long haul, and the brighter kids learn that the parish is not the place to go to develop a deeper understanding of their faith and its traditions. Maybe it never was.

Cay Gibson

Amy,
Do you have any take on the Montessori-style Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program? Not for teens, but certainly a good thing to present before they become teens. : )

And so I'm blogging my experience:
http://homeschoolblogger.com/COGS/

JC

I'll have to wait till tonight to read all the comments here, but right off the cuff, my own attitudes on this issue in general:
For me, any experience I had with "youth ministry" as a youth was a shallow, superficial shadow of what I could get from reading about the Saints. About the only "youth ministry" I ever found to be substantial was, ironiclaly, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which my high school had my first year. I often forget I was a member, since it was only during the second half of my freshman year, and they stopped having FCA after that.

One of the best _Mother Angelica Live_ interviwes I ever heard was with a Daughter of Charity who was the Archdiocese of New York assist. Superintendent for Pro-life education under Cardinal o'Connor. She basically had four topics, all of which she was very insightful on:
1. Pro-life activism
2. Nuns in habits (her convent went back to the habit after being personally blessed by JPII at a visit).
3. Youth ministry. And she said the things I'd always felt. She said, "If all you do is give kids what they can get out in the world, what's the point of youth ministry?" She said that Youth ministry ought to be a place to reach out to the pious kids--the kids who don't get any social life in the world, because they're living their faith. The kids who are trying to live devout lives and need moral support. And those are the kids who are turned off by the kinds of things done in most youth ministry these days.
Strengthen the faith of the kids who are devout, so taht when they go out into the world, *they* can evangelize the lukewarms.
And when the lukewarms come in, they'll be attracted to something offered to them that's substantially different from the shallowness of contemporary culture.
She talked about how when she was a kid, Cathoilc school students were required to stop in at adoration, but the kids she works with today are going to adoration of their own volition.

Josh

I must say I am quite suprised to read much of what I have. Having worked all over the country as a volunteer, a professional youth minister, a high school theology teacher and a high school campus minister, I know that there certainly are needs for these youth and many of the programs out there are not connecting with them on the level neccessary to continue into a solid adult faith.

This however is not a problem of much of the programs, but instead a problem of the implementation. I will defend Lifeteen in particular.

Lifeteen is focused on promoting an experience of the liturgy allowing teens to realize that there is indeed power, gift, and grace in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If that means they need more relative music to make an initial draw then that is a great thing. The problem comes then on those implementing the plan. Lifeteen itself stresses the importance of Catechizing the faith, especially the Mass through this Mass experience. If the homilist and the youth ministry team are not fostering this growth, they need to be challenged to avoid the trap of simply allowing Mass to be an emotional experience. This though is not the fault of a program that is fostering Christ how He should be: by promoting a love of the liturgy, by promoting the communion of saints, by promoting an orthodox understanding of the Church, Her doctrines, and Her history, and by promoting an authentic understanding of being the Body of Christ.

I believe many programs striving to do youth ministry can take a lesson from those authentically implementing Lifeteen. I also believe that those who fear the program need to themselves take a serious look at what the program promotes and teaches on a fundamental level, and not be trapped in the way it has been implemented if that implementation has been qustionable

mtk

I have 2 little boys, so I'm not at the Teen stage yet. But I'm wondering how much youth ministry is really designed to go "deeper" into faith, as opposed to simply keeping the teens connected at *some* level to their faith, so when they reach adulthood they still have a link, rather than fall away completely? My church has what seems to be a vigorous youth group, with lots of activities; but much of the motivation seems to be simply "getting them through" the tough years when teens statistically fall away from faith, so they don't have to be urged to return later after they've been away a while. (I don't mean to imply anything perjorative in my comments, either; with the way young adults drop away from religion, simply keeping them connected seems an honorabe goal in itself, to me.)

Becky

Again, like Josh, I'm somewhat surprised at how many people see youth ministry programs as "shallow." My experience has only been good. Especially when it comes to the catechetical material found in Lifeten. Josh made a good defense, so I won't go on about it, but there's some great stuff in there that teaches the youth a real appreciation for the traditions of the Church. It is very orthodox, especially when it's implemented by orthodox youth ministers.

Youth need mentors who aren't their parents. They primarily learn by example. The most powerful witness is a whole bunch of 20-somethings who have devoted their lives to the Church and live that out in front of the youth. They're excited about praying the rosary, about daily Mass, about Adoration and constant prayer. The excitement is infectious.

Pizza parties and outings are great. My youth ministry team makes sure that every event like this begins with prayer, even if it's in a public place. This automatically makes the kids understand that they're doing something different, setting them apart from the secular world.

The youth group I'm involved in started their Sunday night program this week by asking the kids to divide themselves into 3 different categories of faith journey - on fire, in the middle, unsure and struggling. The kids were honest with themselves and divided up into groups. Each group had leaders assigned to them and they did different activities that night in accordance with their perceived level of faith. This is meeting them where they're at. But at the same time, they all had to stand their at the end while the youth ministers prayed for them. Meet them where they're at but still expect much. That's the model. Just like JPII. Meet them, but expect much.

Sorry I rambled on for so long, it's just that I've seen so much good in youth ministry programs that I feel like I have to share.

M.Z. Forrest

I think the problem is in the goal stated, to get teens into adulthood and still be Catholic. There is certainly room for a positive social network, but the essence of these programs needs to be vocations. If you could get a modest 2% of men in these programs interested in the priesthood, my guess is that you would get an easy 70% interested in being on fire Catholics.

I never went to any of these programs myself. I was rather cynical at the time of pep rallies. Yet, in my entire catechetical experience, I had only one person inquire about me becoming a priest. I was 17 and in a confirmation class. The man thought I was bright and had a good heart. I'm certainly not blaming that man, because he did bother to seek, and he did give me enough information for me to see my way back into the Catholic faith later; but I had very basic objections to the priesthood (for example, some of my own sins) that a priest might have been able to disabuse me. I'm not sure I would have made it through seminary, but I didn't reach that point even.

JC

A couple thoughts: Becky and Marie touch on something important. There are different levels for different people.
For someone who was where I was as a teenager, youth ministry was offensive and damaging to my faith.
"Turn around and bless the person left of you with holy water" seemed like sacrilege. New age saxophone music and banners out of the 1960s. . . . .
It was irrelevant to me, superficial and weak.
There needs to be something to appeal to the kids who are *already* serious about their faith.

At the same time, there is *some* good in this 1960s-era "I'm OK; you're OK" youth ministry. For many, it's a valuable lesson they need to hear at their stage of life. The problem is that it doesn't move them beyond to the next step, and the people who do that stuff and are all fired up about Catholicism as high school and college students either a) stay in that place as adults or b) stick to the pop psychology and drop the Catholicism.

mary

I have read some of the comments, and many simply echo my own sentiments. I have a real problem with Lifeteen however in that they STILL have the teens go up on the alter even tho' they have NOT been given any sort of indult or special permission to do this (at least they do in all the parishes around in my neck of the woods) ...so any catechesis is voided by the basic disobedience of that one act.

I have heard that Lifeteen is starting to conform to the norms, but around here they are still going up at the alter.

Anyway, BEST youth programs I personally have seen, over and over...from personal experience, and as a mother of many are the ones that give the kids a REAL sense of mission and devotion to the Eucharist.

Working with the poor and pro-life work hooks kids in like nothing else...THAT and adoration.

Give them a zeal for Gods house, especially the little ones being slaughtered everyday.

'Rock for life' and 'Youth 2000' are the best ones that do this.
m~

Becky

I had heard that the head Lifeteen office had instructed groups not to go up to the alter at Mass anymore. Anybody have any information on that? I've noticed that it's not going on as much.

Mary - Youth 2000 is very good. My youth group always takes a trip to that conference every year.

MZ Forrest - our group keeps the youth in a constant exposure to the religious life and the priesthood. We have a monk/priest that is particularly attached to our group, and he regularly leads retreats, etc. His specialty is Adoration for the youth and children.

I'm not trying to flout anything, but I just want to point out (again) that good programs DO happen, and good things are coming out of using portions of the Lifeteen program.

josh

Lifeteen has indeed asked that teens (and anyone else not supposed to be up there) no longer be up around the altar. Lifeteen actually addressed this very quickly upon the release of the new GIRM. They are passionately committed to the Church and Her authority, and at good programs they teach this to the teens as well. I remember actually being at a "good" Lifeteen parish with my wife for the weekend when they first implemented the new norms regarding this. She was blown away at the ease with which the teens went along with the Church's decree, and pointed out that that never would've happened that easily at one of the more local lifeteens (run poorly).

Again it all comes do to the implementation. Passionate youth leaders who are committed to the Church are able to convey that message, usually very powerfully through Lifeteen.

I do want to comment in response to whomever spoke of the value of vocations. This is one of lifeteen's important missions they've taken on(again dependent on implementation) and many, many of our current seminarians and young men in pre-theologate programs all over the country and indeed all over the world, are lifeteen "graduates". We have a small program at our own parish (only been at it about 18months), and we already have 2 teens and one core member seriously discerning the priesthood amongst a total of about 40 people, Core and teens. This does not include the few young women contemplating religious life, and the few core contemplating the permanent deaconate.

It's all in the implementation.

josh

I also forgot to throw in my support for both Youth2000 and Rock4Life. These are excellent programs for their purpose, and are also powerful tools by which teens are introduced to life-long faith.

brendan

Great comments from everyone. I think that as someone who has gone through current CCD, youth groups, college ministry (IVCF), and other programs that the problem is one of not understanding human nature.

I mean by this that all of us have a religious sense as we are created in God's image and likeness. As a result, this religious sense needs tapped. What taps this. It is an encounter with the true and living God. This means that it is something both individual and communal. Very rarely does it have to do with an emotional feeling, but it goes to the core of our humanity where the will and the intellect are triggered to hold onto that which we encounter- Christ, who became flesh and dwells among us. Where in his Body the Church. This means that this encounter entails a sacramental life and its graces.

Current youth ministry is focused upon appeasing the ego with that which stimulates, but soon it no longer does the trick or it only gives superficial fruits. I know that there are different styles of music and that they are compatible with the liturgy, but they should never overtake the beuaty and simplicity of the liturgy. Remember it, the Mass is not about us. It is about God, the Triune God, full of mystery and awe.

Something that only focuses on a brief moment or a small sliver of life will not satisfy. That is why I love the Eastern Churches-I can worship with my senses organically and be lifted beyond myself.That is also why I joined a parish rather than continued attending Mass on campus. The Church is Catholic- young and old, families, singles, professionals, disabled, etc.

It is dangerous theologically to not be involved in its entirety, which is what Life Teen and other programs do in adition to only focusing on psychological entertainment.

Becky

Again, there is no basis whatsoever in saying that Lifeteen is focused on "psychological entertainment." It is an orthodox program that truly exposes the youth to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Many of the youth who are involved in Lifeteen are changing their parishes for the better. They are learning about Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist and are acting accordingly. They are paying attention at Mass and showing reverence. They stay after Mass to spend time with Christ in prayer, as the rest of the parish gets up and leaves. Programs like Lifeteen (when properly implemented by orthodox youth ministers) are teaching kids the beauty of our faith, something the last generation did not receive.

marie

Becky,

Believe me, adoration did not begin with Lifeteen. There are some good aspects and some problemetic aspects to Lifeteen, but the defensiveness of its supporters troubles me. The "Lifeteen(tm) Mass" - the whole notion of a trademarked mass is wack. Have you watched the promotional video starring Father Fushek? Creepy. And Josh, you should check out what Dom Bettinelli has written about Lifeteen's less than rapid compliance with the GIRM . Sorry, but Lifeteen is no panacea and I'd beware putting so much faith in it. Do you ever talk to any of the kids that find it patronizing and queer to have to have a special mass catering to "the youth"? I know plenty of good people who think Lifeteen is super, but I know plenty of good people - young and old - who can't stand it. A good leader can do wonders, but why does a good leader need a goopy trademarked program like Lifeteen?

Brigid

As a member of the "last generation," we did just fine with the "charismatic/CYO/SEARCH/guitar-singing" masses, I find offense with the implication from Becky that I somehow missed out by not attending LifeTeen Masses. And while I know LifeTeen to be a fine way for teens to experience the Mass, it's not THAT orginal.

It's all the same stuff, folks. And it works for some youth and not for others and that's okay. This arugment about the effectiveness of youth ministries has been going on for yeeeearrss. And I think Amy is correct in that for those who do think it's disingenuous, let them be! They are not "groupie kids" (as, I bet, are not their parents) so let's be happy they show up for Mass with (or without) their parents.

Now, about college campus ministry... 8-O

Becky

I'm not saying that people missed out, I'm just saying that Lifeteen offers a lot. Our group doesn't ever do the Lifeteen Mass, because we have serious problems with the concept and the method. I believe I stated that in my first post. I don't think anybody has missed out on anything by not attending a Lifeteen Mass. The one Lifeteen Mass I attended was certainly enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

But the catechetical material is worth looking at and examining. That's the only reason we're associated with Lifeteen - for the great resources they have and their particular way of presenting orthodoxy to the youth. If you look at my earlier posts, the only thing I ever defended was the actual catechetical material. The rest can be picked through at the discretion of the leaders.

Lori

I am an active member of the Legion of Mary in my parish. I have 5 children (one in utero), the oldest is seven. I plan on having my children in there "teen" years live out there faith through the Junior Legion of Mary (8yrs to 18) which is an apostolate of the adult preasidium. Please approach your adult Legion of Mary preasidium (join them) in your parish to start a Jr. Legion. There are weekly meetings led by the junior members (with adult Legionaires to support thier roles)which begins with prayer,five decades of the Rosary, spiritual reading, sharing reports on what was done during the week to live out the Faith,and planning for the work to be done before the next meeting. An hour(or more) of evangelization weekly, in say, visits to homebound, hospitals, rest homes, door-to door visits, or assiting at Mass. Requires commitment, sound formation(given during the meetings) , and going out with courage to share the Good News. This tried and true devotion to Jesus with the Blessed Mother as our model is the perfect youth ministry. Here's their site http://www.legionofmary.org/

TCYM Lounge

Boy oh boy! (rubbing hands together gleefully) Do I love this topic!

I will first say that experiences of Youth Ministry are extremely varied depending on where you life in the US. Some dioceses are doing great (like Boston, Philly) and some are back in the 70's. Still.

As far as LifeTeen goes, at the National Center you will find nothing but commitment to the Magisterium and teachings of the Faith. Different youth ministers/pastors do with it what they want, which is not LifeTeen's position. I have reviewed a vast amount of resources for youth ministry, and find most of it either user friendly (read mushy 70's fluff) or quite Churchy (read to meaty, hard to digest). LifeTeen strikes the best balance I've found so far, esp in it's Confirmation programming and LifeNights.

Next I have yet to hear anyone talk about "Renewing The Vision". Yes, it's by the National Bishops of whom we often find ourselves rolling our eyes at the stuff that comes from their get-to-gethers, but this document is THE BEST, hands down, how-to for youth ministry.

I had the immense pleasure of working in an inner-city program in which we did ministry for 7 parishes at once. Our backbone was the 8 Components of Youth Ministry: Advocacy, Prayer and Worship, Justice and Service, Leadership Development, Catechesis, Community Life, Evangelization and Pastoral Care, with the 3 goals being 1. to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person, 2.Youth Ministry seeks to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the faith community, and 3. Youth Ministry gives the world a sign of God's Kingdom by challenging the young to work for justice and peace among the poor and the oppressed. All of this can be done in the context of orthodoxy as well.

When we used this as our framework/backbone and the programs and relationships fleshed it out. Now any kid could be invited and go as deep as they wanted-and we were always challenging them to go deeper.

This was all done in context of relationships-and unfortunatly in today's Church this gets tricky. However, we can't let Satan take this away from us, they need models (we are there to SUPPORT the parents in raising their teen, not take them away from their parents)-men and women willing to take up the Cross gladly.

It's all about the total person, forming them in all areas of their life and always encouraging/challenging them to grow. It does start with God and His Church and always, always extending the invitation to the teen, regardless of "where they are at". All of us can always grow more in Christ.

I love Youth and I love youth ministers. I would love nothing better than to find better ways of connecting, nationally to effect better youth ministry. (I'm not a fan at all of the Center for Ministry Development or the National Federation, for that matter)

Can you tell it's a passion of mine as well?!

brendan

I was not dissing Lifeteen per-se but programs that lack depth. I do believe Lifeteen with orthodox leaders, priests, and a GIRM firm liturgy are excellent. However, I interviewed at parishes for youth ministry and watched the video's put out by Lifeteen. The theology of liturgy and liturgical reform was false and disengenous at best in trying to justify children around the altar. It also was focused on an age-specific Mass that was meant to be exclusively for them, which implies that the regular Mass is not enough and they don't need to see others like families, elderly, etc within the Church. I also know that the music often overshadows rather than complements the liturgy.

I do think that GS, a movement within the Communion and Liberation Movement to which I belong is a real solution because one lives out a charism and then can go onto the college-age charism and ultimately school of community where we live out mission, culture, and service based on objective reality and non-subjective criteria.

Becky

Brendan,

I also am associated with the movement Communion and Liberation. It's great. But the charism isn't really focused on catechetical formation, which is still necessary. Lifeteen may be able to fill this role with their material.

Stephen

Becky, my experience in CL is quite the opposite. The Charism is entirely focused on catechetical formation, that's precisely what the school of community is. Lifeteen is not a method that "meshes" with the method of CL very well because LifeTeen's pedagogy and focus is vastly different from CL's. I encourage you to stay close to talk about this with Mike Eppler, the director of YM in Evansville. He might help you understand better how Fr. Giussani's "Per Corso" is used as an educative method.

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