Youth around Archdiocese called to serve the Church

March 28, 2017

Each year, high school youth from through the Archdiocese are called forth by their pastors, principals, youth ministry directors and campus ministry directors to consider serving our local Church as representatives of our parishes and Catholic high schools on the Archdiocesan Youth Council.

More than 110 teens gathered at Camp Kappe and through prayer and dialogue with current members, discerned and responded with a resounding “yes” to serve and will be commissioned by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo at the Archdiocesan Youth Conference this July.

In response to the mission statement of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization, the Archdiocesan Youth Council was established in March 1994 with the first members beginning July 1994 for the following purposes:

• To represent the youth of the Archdiocese and to articulate and advocate for their particular needs and concerns to the members of the Archdiocesan leadership;

• To promote spiritual and personal growth of their peers by facilitating active participation of youth at Archdiocesan events;

• To raise Catholic leaders in the Archdiocese through the Council’s involvement in the development of special programs for youth; and

• To help draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and works in the faithful community of the People of God.

In the context of youth ministry, the council works to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person in the Archdiocese. It also seeks to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the faith community. (Adapted from the USCCB Document, Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, 1997)

The vision for the youth council is centered on section #47 of Pope John Paul II’s Post Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in America. In this document, St. John Paul II stated the, “young people are a great force in society and for evangelization” and that the “formation process for young people must be constant and active, capable of helping them find their place in the Church and in the world.” The Holy Father further reminded us that all “young Christians, trained to have a mature missionary consciousness, must become apostles to their contemporaries.”

The representatives for the Archdiocesan Youth Council, exists to enable its leaders to share the Gospel message with their peers while developing their leadership gifts as faithful Catholics present to the larger Church.

For any ministry to have lasting impact, new leaders must be identified, trained and mobilized.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus was active in making disciples. That work included seeking the lost, nurturing believers and equipping workers. But Jesus did not stop there — he placed high priority on another essential aspect of disciple making: multiplying and sending leaders. Jesus’ apprentice leaders, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, gave birth to the disciple making movement we know as the Church.

Through the Church, Jesus continues his disciple making work in our world today. An essential part of that work is multiplying and sending a new generation of leaders. Youth ministry is a particularly fruitful place for such leadership development to occur.

Within a youth ministry program, youth who have developed into workers are identified, encouraged, equipped and mobilized to become leaders within the parish program and within the larger parish community. But what is involved in helping a young disciple of Jesus to become a leader? For starters, the right candidates must be identified.
An appropriate candidate for leadership development within a youth group is a young disciple of Jesus who is AFT’R more — one who is available, faithful, teachable and responsive.

• Available young disciples are ones who have been willing to clear their calendar to make great commandment/great commission ministry a priority in their lives.
• Faithful young disciples have demonstrated endurance over a period of time. The fruit of God’s Holy Spirit is evident. They exhibit a spiritual consistency and predictability.
• Teachable young disciples are humble enough to learn and to be accountable to leadership within the youth ministry program. To be a good leader, one must first be (and continue to be) a good follower.
• Responsive young disciples have team spirit expressed through contagious enthusiasm and passion.

Through a young leader’s appropriately directed passion, youth catch a commitment to Christ, to the local Church, to the youth ministry program and to the Church’s disciple making mission. The Archdiocesan Youth Council focuses on young disciples who are available to serve the Church, faithful to the teachings of Jesus’ Church, open to be taught and learn more about the faith and how to live it, and are responsive to the needs of others. 

Brian K. Johnson is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.