Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry Events Coordinator – Loretta Putorti: parent, parishioner, coordinator of events for Youth Ministry.  Email Loretta at smcym@nycap.rr.com

What is youth ministry?

I am often asked, “What is youth ministry?”  At this point, after many years of parish ministry, I am no longer surprised when folks think, that as a youth minister, my sole responsibility is to plan social activities for young people.  While such activities might indeed fall under the umbrella of “Comprehensive Youth Ministry”, that is a far cry from what ministry to/with/by/for adolescents seeks to achieve.

Youth ministry as defined by the United States Catholic Conference, Department of Education, as expressed in the document A Vision of Youth Ministry (1976), is “the response of the Christian community to the needs of young people, and the sharing of the unique gifts of youth with the larger community.”  The mission of the A Vision of Youth Ministry document was to articulate the philosophy, goals, principles, and components of a new direction in the Church’s ministry with youth.

In 1997, Renewing The Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry built upon the foundation of the original document to include the importance of the young person’s call to personal discipleship, evangelization, and leadership.  This new document highlighted the call to make ministry with youth a concern of the ENTIRE faith community – not just that of a parish youth minister, faith formation director, or pastor.

So, what is youth ministry?  It the response of all of us as members of the faith community to

1) empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today (ie. live as Jesus would want all of us to live); 2) draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community; and 3) foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person. (Renewing the Vision, 1997)

So, then, what is our responsibility to the young people of our parish?  Be present… invite… support… challenge…nurture… share… pray… Do not assume one youth minister or pastor can solely meet the needs of every young person in a parish.  We all play a part!

Youth Ministry Happenings at SMC

In an effort to engage the parish in a comprehensive model of youth ministry, Loretta Putorti – Coordinator for Youth Ministry Events – has initiated a Youth Ministry Team.  This team –  comprised of youth and adults – serves to promote youth ministry in the parish.

To date, the Youth Ministry Team (in addition to running games at last summer’s parish picnic) has sponsored several service opportunities that have benefited the residents of Bishop Hubbard Senior Apartments and retired priests living in the area.  Last October young people gathered to make 60+ Halloween goodie bags; decorate 28+ dozen sugar cookies at Christmas; and make 60+ handmade, old-fashioned Valentines.  And plans are now in the works for a Spring gathering at Bishop Hubbard Senior Apartments.

Youth opportunities don’t end at the parish level, however.  This summer the Diocese will offer three different opportunities for youth at Pyramid Life Center, Paradox, NY.  The “Breakaway” program will offer three different  5-day experiences –  for high school and  middle school age youth, as well as a program for high school age musicians.   And this fall the National Catholic Youth Conference – a biennial conference for high school youth –  will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana.  St. Mary’s, Crescent hopes to have representatives at all  of these amazing opportunities.