Archbishop Schnurr’s Seven Observations Regarding Ministry to Youth
Notes by Brad Bursa
Presentation given on May 2, 2012
The following notes are both observations and directives from Archbishop Schnurr regarding Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese. Here, we are speaking not only about Youth Ministry (as we may commonly think of it), but all religious education that happens on our campus for adolescents and young adults.
1. Aim of Youth Ministry – turns us back to the Baltimore Catechism. The first question in the Catechism is “who created you?” The second is “Who is God?” And, the third – “Why did God make us?” Archbishop sees this third question is the launching point for Youth Ministry. God creates for a purpose, which leads into vocation (in the broad sense – call to holiness – priesthood, consecrated life, marriage, chaste single life). An answer to the question “why did God make me?” provides for a fullness of life. (We were created with a purpose – a heavenly purpose – beatitude, eternal happiness).
2. We cannot underestimate our young people. Need to challenge them, and encourage them to be not afraid. Young people want to hear everything the Church has to say, and they will make the decision themselves. Young people don't want to hear that they are not ready for certain content.
3. Youth Ministry cannot be endless fun and games, and Religious Education cannot be endless classroom teaching.
4. It is important on occasion to have bigger events, because young people need to know and appreciate that they are part of something larger than the parish/school.
5. Need to balance big events with a need for silence - retreat experience. Archbishop recommends that the youth spend quiet time in prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. They need to first meet Jesus – encounter the Person of Christ. Then, they will be more inclined to want to know/learn about Who they just met.
6. Need to involve young people in the life of the parish. The youth have something to offer the Church right now.
7. Ministry needs to involve the youth themselves - need opportunities for peer ministry.
Of few of my own comments:
- An increase in parental support – Parents are the primary educators of their children – especially with regard to the faith. Not only would I hope that parents encourage their children to attend our programs at the parish, but that parents continue to learn more about the faith, and draw deeper into conversion, so as to teach their children about Jesus and the Church. Our programs exist to supplement what is happening in the home.
- Urgency. As we have become increasingly aware of - especially since January - the faith is not something that we can simply take for granted. We are challenged to freely assent to Christ and to his teaching, and to work for virtue and conversion in our lives. This necessarily means that our priorities are straight, and constantly re-straightened. The busyness of families nowadays often pushes faith formation, prayer, family meals, etc. to the back burner. The Church needs strong, faith-filled families, because the world needs the witness of these families. The issues the Church is facing cannot be played out only on the judicial level – these issues demand that each Catholic re-examines his/her own life and accounts for his/her faith – which means saying “yes” to Christ once again, and re-establishing priorities accordingly.