What Is Catholic Youth Ministry?
The Catholic bishops of the United States defined Catholic youth ministry in the 1997 document Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry. This document, printed in both English and Spanish, provides a structure for the ministry as well as a language, theology, and pastoral approach for responding to the personal and spiritual needs of today's adolescents.
Renewing the Vision
“What is needed today is a church which knows how to respond to the expectations of young people. Jesus wants to enter into dialogue with them and, through his body, which is the church, to propose the possibility of a choice, which will require a commitment of their lives. As Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus, so the church must become the traveling companion of young people...” (Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 1995, Philippines)
The church must become the traveling companion of young people—and that is what we mean by youth ministry. If, indeed, “it takes an entire village to raise a child,” then it certainly takes an entire church to journey with young people as they grapple with the Good News and respond in discipleship.
Youth Ministry ... it’s about discipleship
The first goal of youth ministry is “to empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today.” Young people are “searching for a noble adventure”, a compelling and challenging vision of life, and a cause worth their commitment. They hunger to hear the Good News that finds response in discipleship. As their companions on this spiritual journey, some of the ways the Church fulfills this first goal of youth ministry is by ...
Proclaiming the Good News of Jesus through witness and word to young people.
Enabling young people to live as disciples through their involvement in service, ministry, and leadership opportunities.
Providing young people the faith skills for discipleship.
The second goal is “to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community.” Young people have a hunger for connection, to be in relationship, and to belong. Family, peers, school, youth serving organizations, and church are primary connections for young people. Some of the ways the church fulfills this second goal of youth ministry is by ...Being a ‘youth friendly’ community that welcomes young people, values their participation, and calls forth their gifts.Integrating young people into the liturgical, pastoral, and ministerial life of the parish community. Creating opportunities for young people to enter into healthy relationships of trust and respect with their peers and with adults.
Promoting Catholic identity and religious literacy through programs of adolescent catechesis.
Youth Ministry ... it’s about gifts and growth
The third goal of youth ministry is “to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person.” Adolescence is an important time for mental, spiritual, social, and physical growth. Their experiences and relationships greatly influence their healthy and positive development. The Church strives to surround young people with the best possible external scaffolds—networks of caring relationships of family, school, peers, and other adults—while young people are developing their internal psychological and spiritual backbone—their values, life skills, commitments, and moral compass. The church fulfills this third goal of youth ministry by...
Enabling young people to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.
Actively supporting positive youth development and fostering healthy values and life skills.
Supporting families of young people by providing resources, programs, and services.
Providing opportunities to experience and express caring, service, and compassion for others