COLBERT: Here’s to a hope-filled New Year
January 11, 2022
Isaiah 40:31: They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.
The ministry team at the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization (OACE) enters this New Year with an abundance of hope.
Hopeful for families
Over a decade ago, groundbreaking research was conducted to understand the faith lives of adolescents. The publication of this research by Dr. Christian Smith at the University of Notre Dame provided a springboard for reimagining our parishes and our faith formation. However, it has been the pandemic that has forced us all to take much more seriously the family-focused approach that the research calls for.
Note these key findings:
- Parents are the most significant influence on the religious and spiritual outcomes of young people.
- The primary way by which Catholic identity becomes rooted in children’s lives are the day-to-day religious practices of the family and the ways parents model their faith and share it in conversation, collaboration and exposure to outside religious opportunities.
- The family is the primary community where Catholic faith practices are nurtured and practiced.
- The quality of a parent’s relationship with their children or teens and the parenting style they practice makes a significant difference in faith transmission.
These findings make it abundantly clear that the parish is the secondary, not primary, place of faith formation. I am hopeful that the families of our Archdiocese will include in their New Year’s resolutions one which seeks to bring a more vibrant faith experience into the home.
Hopeful for the return of the young Church
The pandemic has had a number of deleterious effects on adolescents. Higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression are the most prominent. The isolation has been challenging. Adolescents are, by nature, social beings. This is a time that many young people are finding more freedom. I am hopeful in this new year that as our youth return to many of their normal parish activities and diocesan events, they will find the support they need and that their zeal for the faith will be reignited.
Hopeful for the growth of our parish ministry leaders
Much of the work of the OACE is to provide training, resources and consultation to parish ministry leaders. For decades that has meant gathering in person on an assigned day to provide the knowledge and skills needed for effective ministry.
As both volunteer and professional ministry leaders’ lives get busier and busier, and Houston traffic gets less and less tolerable, it is a challenge to get the training and formation needed to parishes across this vast Archdiocese. We have recently launched a new formation video library (www.archgh.org/capernaum) that is available 24/7, 365 days a year. This allows the volunteer and ministry leaders to get the training they need when they need it.
No longer are they beholden to our schedule. No longer do folks need to get a babysitter. No longer will volunteers who are night shift workers need to give up precious sleeping hours to attend formation. I am excited and hopeful for the ongoing growth of our ministry leaders.
It is my hope that you, the reader, will help bring these to fruition. As parents, grandparents, and faith-filled adults, you can make a difference through prayer, intentional faith sharing with your children or grandchildren, and by supporting the ministry at your own parish.
The OACE ministry team looks forward with hope as we continue to serve the parishes and families of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Timothy E. Colbert is the director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.