Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Monday, January 10, 2005


I love it when I come to a parish and I find families that are bold in their decisions to embrace and live out the teachings of the Catholic Church. They are miles ahead of the average Catholic family and their witness to some seems extreme, but to me it is refreshing.

I have one wish, though, one wish. Please get involved.

It seems that there is an attitude that prevails, one that seems to say "We are doing so much better than the other families that we don't really have to do (fill in the blank)"

Take for instance, the family that has a daughter in the Confirmation program. She doesn't go to the regular class because "it's not enough" fine, great even. So she and two others meet with one of the moms and go over the material and then some. I wasn't keen on the idea because such high ideals can raise a classroom and influence the discussion amongst questioning teenagers. However in the interest of their formation, I allowed it.

These girls, however, still have not done their service requirements and are now trying to get out the retreat. Why? Because they don't want to spend their weekend on a pointless retreat that they are afraid that they won't get much out of. Oh, and their drama group is going to competition that weekend.

I get that they are really doing well on their faith journey. I was them in high school and I didn't go to youth group because it just wasn't enough for me either. The youth minsiter then was not someone I would entrust my faith journey to and I was never really invited to be a part of their events by him.

However, I do invite these girls. I am trying to get them to see that since they "get it" as it were, they are now responsible to "give it". Maybe I'm jumping the gun since they haven't received the sacrament yet, but this also comes from Mom and Dad.

Mom and Dad are exceptional. However, when things go bad during a liturgy or Fr says something that is, well, off, they go through the roof and I hear about it. I keep telling them "Get Involved!! GET INVOLVED" but alas they don't.

I know moms and dad are the first in line when it comes to Formation and the parish is here to support that. However, I wish these dedicated moms and dads would see the whole picture: That it's not just about what they want to receieve-the fullness of our faith and the best that we can possibly have-but also on giving it back. If it's SO good, why not share it with the rest of the community?!?!!!


Blogger Jaime said...

Being empowered by your faith (in my opinion) moves you to get involved. If one is truly in touch with the Church, part of that is getting off the sidelines and ministering to others who haven't figured it out yet.

That's part of the teachings. The kids need to learn that it isn't sufficient for them to get it, but to share it.

Also does any of this have anything to do with a retreat requirement for confirmation? My folks could have been the best English teachers in the world. But I still would have had to go to class to fulfill the requirement

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have coordinated Confirmation programs in the past, and I've experienced exactly what you brought to light in your blog post.

My response to the teens and their parents is that we are a communal people, in that we are the Body of Christ first and then individually members of it. There is a commmunal dimension to our lives as Church which precedes the individual dimension of our lives.Christ saves us as a people and then as individuals.

We can not fully live out our faith without other members of the Body. It is not about 'my' faith journey, about me and the Lord, but about the pilgrimage of all men and women called out of the darkness by Christ. So, while the teens and their parents may see themselves further along in their faith, they are really only seeing and living out a portion of the richness that is Christ's gift of life to His people if they insist on drawing themselves apart.

Anyway, I've been doing youth ministry for many years, and I absolutely love your blog!!! :)

Keith Strohm

8:37 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Thanks, Keith! Spread Fred (spread the word) because I'd love to get discussions going on the many challenges of youth ministry!

I'm glad you brought up the whole community first and then individual-that Christ first saves us as a people then as individuals. It's not a common thought, esp in light of the Prot notion that we are saved individually.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No problem! I will spread the word...:) It would be awesome if there was an opportunity to use the internet to support and help each other in our ministry.

I agree that the catholic notion of 'community' is quite different from the protestant understanding. I think it also has a lot to do with the different understanding of ecclesiology in the Catholic and Protestant churches. I am so thankful that I am Catholic. The wisdom and fullness of the Church is so awesome. :)

Keith Strohm

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am exactly the kind of person you are complaining about here. Perhaps even worse. I actually drive several miles, past 4 different parishes, including the one directly across the street from my house, for a Mass that I feel I will "get more out of" and fellowship with parishoners who I feel are "more like me". I have a son in the parish confirmation program right now, and he has missed about 40% of his classes (although he made the service requirement), and we have not yet decided if he will be going on the retreat. To make matters worse for the confirmation teacher, my son is homeschooled, and studies both religion and bible history every day, so he comes across as sort of a know-it-all on the days he does make it to class.

I'm a convert to the faith (from atheism in '97), was married in '98 and have six children (the oldest, 11, is adopted). My decision to embrace the faith has cost me in many ways including damaging my relationship with my father and my sister, having to abandon my career goals (the demands of family life made staying in graduate school unworkable), the loss of innumerable friends, and the loss of my pre-conversion social network. I am now subject to a crushing level of debt (caused by student loans acquired in the pursuit of a career that is now closed to me), and comments from random stangers acusing me of being an irresponsible idiot when I go places with my family.

Despite this difficulty, I love the Church with all of my heart and soul. And as a family we try to be involved with the Church. My wife used to sing in the choir when we attended the Parish across the street from my house, but she quit when she was harrassed too often for not having had a tubal ligation. It was shortly after this that we swithched parishes. It was simply too difficult being the only family with more than 3 children in the parish. Even after we left the parish, my oldest used to go over on Monday mornings as help clean the church, along with a group of retired volunteers, until finally a cuople on months ago the pastor asked us not to send him over anymore. The old men he cleaned with thought that he disrupted their sense of community.

I have tried to be involved with the Church through the Knights of Columbus, and to that end I'm currently serving as Grand Knight of my council; however, at our last meeting I was harshly criticised because I have tried to bring catechetical content to our meetings. I was told that we have a chaplain for that.

I think these experiences explain why many of the faithful have difficulty with involvement. We have been burned before. It is difficult enough that faithfulness pushes you to the margins of the majority culture, but living faithfully (especially when this means having a lot of children) pushes you to the margins of most parish communities as well. This is why the large families and the homeschooling families tend to form their own networks outside the structure of parishes and tend to be aloof. In too many instances members of the Church (including some priests and deacons, and even bishops) have pushed these families to the margins of parish life. They find their community as Christians with similar families from multiple parishes and in the communion of saints.

I don't mean to just bellyache, but thought you might benefit from knowing where some of these people are coming from. To get involvement, make some concessions to their point of view. Acknowledge how difficult the road of discipleship can be, agree that the faith is entering a time of persecution. If you really want to befriend these families, share with them your concern for the salvation of souls. Tell them how you are frustrated and anguished by the vast numbers of Catholics who ignore the Church's teachings on contraception, fornication, abortion, divorce, and homosexuality. Tell them that you pray often for our bishops and priests to have the courage to speak out on difficult and contraversial moral issues. Praise Mother Angelica and her work with EWTN. Speak in glowing terms about Christendom College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, and Thomas Aquinas College. Talk to them about how you would like to see the parish develop into something like St. John Cantius in Chicago. They will respond. They love the Church.

Ben Naasko, Denver CO

12:04 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Want to come to my parish? :-)
Seriously, I know what you are saying because my pastor doesn't really care for the enthusiastic orthodox families of this parish and they've formed their own support group much like you've described.

My point is, though, that I am one of them, but working on staff doesn't mean that I can change the workings of the pastoral council, the finer points of Mass,. Even being on staff I am limited, and I need them to help ME and stand behind me as I try to bring all that goodness to everyone.

I know they feel marginalized. I know they've been burnt. I know they have their own support networks. I guess I'm hoping that they will use that support to jump into parish life and make it even better! Like the girls and Confirmation-I want to RAISE the bar of expectations!

I know that they need their support and community that they've built, I don't want to take that from them-just use it to build up the rest of the parish. We need them!

I appreciate your generous thoughts from someone who's obviously been there. It IS hard, but in my view, the persecution and struggle are necessary. Souls need Truth!

6:11 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home