ADAMS: A few good teens - Join the Archdiocesan Youth Council
June 14, 2022
One of the first things a new youth ministry leader should know is the phrase “youth ministry should be done to, with, by and for youth.” This phrase from the USCCB document “Renewing the Vision,” which provides a framework for Catholic youth ministry, helps define the mission of youth ministry in the Archdiocese.
In 1994, Associate Director Brian Johnson, along with Director (and now secretariat Director) Jim Barrette, created a high school advisory council of a few high school teens from various parishes, ethnic and social-economic backgrounds. They wanted the youth to be actively involved in their ministry, not just being ministered to. So they brought them together to share their ideas, concerns, hopes and faith stories.
That day the council was born.
Originally called Youth Ambassadors for Christ, or YAC for short, the youth explored ways to use their gifts and engage others throughout the Archdiocese to serve on the diocesan and parish level. Valerie Harrison, DRE at St. Mary of the Purification and one of the original youth council advisors who still serve today, defines what council means to her.
“The youth council gives the youth a voice in what is going on in the Church today. It allows the Church to also see the good in youth, their spiritual growth and experience their gifts and talents which they can share with the universal Church.”
The Archdiocesan Youth Council has grown from a few members in 1994 to well over 100 each year from the parishes and Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese. They serve with the help of the Office of Adolescent of Catechesis and Evangelization (OACE) staff and volunteer adult advisors (many were former members themselves) who guide the council.
Council members have become doctors, lawyers, teachers, peace officers and leaders in their professions. A large number of youth continue their faith in service to the Church as priests, men and women religious, novices and currently five seminarians. Former members have also become lay ministry leaders as well as parents, uncles and aunts, all who continue to share their faith with family and friends.
The council has also expanded its mission to help assure active youth participation in Archdiocesan events; help in sharing needs of youth and advocate for their concerns to the archbishop and Archdiocesan officials; represent the youth in diferent ways and encourage the Archdiocese to attend to their needs; and to to further Christian growth by developing programs for youth through observation, discussion and action.
The council hopes to have at least two representatives for each parish and Catholic high school within the Archdiocese.
Council members serve on the various programs for younger and older adolescents by assisting in creating, implementing and leading activities for their peers. Along with adult mentors, they help accompany their peers in ministry by articulating their own faith stories and journey as disciples.
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo commissions the council each year at the closing Liturgy of the Archdiocesan Youth Conference. Each August, council members meet Cardinal DiNardo to share some of their youth concerns.
Council is a one-year commitment. Time includes two or three weekend retreats during the year, serving on a program committee that you choose. The program committee’s time commitment varies depending on the program, with most being one to two meetings and participation in virtual meetings.
Council also provides an opportunity to meet new friends from all over the Archdiocese who share the same love of Jesus Christ and to come together for prayer, faith-sharing, fellowship and fun. Council members have also formed friendships that have continued from high school, college to adulthood.
So, do you know a youth who would benefit from a ministry that is by, with and for youth? Discernment will continue through June 2022. If you know someone who is interested, have them contact their parish catechetical leader, campus leader or Randall Adams at OACE at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-741-8723.
What does it take to serve on the Youth Council?
We are currently in the process of discerning the 2022-2023 Youth Council, which will be commissioned by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo on July 31 at Archdiocesan Youth Conference. We invite parish catechetical and youth leaders, campus ministers, priests and staff to consider nominating parish youth.
Nominations are welcomed from parish or Catholic high school officials who attest to the student’s leadership skills and level of commitment.
Students must be an incoming high school sophomore, junior or senior; Be familiar with the vision of youth ministry and be active in a parish youth ministry/high school campus ministry program; Listen to others and to report their concerns without judgment and be honest in communicating their own feelings; Consider the whole Archdiocesan picture rather than the individual parish or school; and take responsibility for his/her attendance and commitment to areas/committees assigned.
Randall Adams is an associate director with the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.