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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Comin' Clean

Ok, I have big news for all five of you who read this on a regular basis: I'm actually not in youth ministry at the present time.

At my last parish the boss was someone who I will never understand. I tried, God knows I tried. Missed minor details threw him into fits. I mean FITS. Mistakes that happened that were out of my control-that never happens in youth ministry, right?-I would get raked for.

One day I was called into a private conference office with the deacon, the former youth minister who worked part time doing rel ed and is a mother, and the head of Rel Ed:none of whom were my boss. They went over a litany of my failures. It was one of the worst experiences I have ever endured.

The rel ed woman clearly had been complaining to the head of RelEd and then they went to the deacon because the deacon would not have known any of the issues. What really blew my mind is that the day before I asked her what the meeting was about and she said "I'm not sure, just go in there and tell the deacon all the good things that you do" and then in the meeting pounded her fist on a table and demanded to know why I didn't do things a certain way.

I found my way to a counselor because I was so angry and so convinced that there was something wrong with me. They suggested ADD. So I went to my boss, let him know that I had received this diagnosis from a doctor and that I was actively seeking treatment:meds and behavior modification. Two weeks later he calls me into his office and fires me.

I started this blog because working in parish life can drive you insane. It can make you start drinking. It can possibly make you loose your faith. Many times the staff is not all on board theologically, but lets not even get into each others ' sinfulness. To be honest, if a parish staff were all down with Church teaching I could put up with the sin! Really! But to add in there an intolerant pastor- - - I'd had it with parish life (this was my 4th position).

My dream then, is to start something of a "Catholic Youth Specialties" as it were. I think they have a great thing going, but I find much of their material not serving the needs of Catholic ministers. We should not be questioning what to do when our theology does not match up with the pastors, we wonder what the best age for Confirmation is, we try to find the balence between the fullness and richness of our traditions and heritage: And being cool, or at least making this richness into ways the youth can grab a hold of it and make it their own.

It is a special art form to be a Youth Minister. But I think it is even more of an art form to be a Catholic Youth Minister. I love that challenge. I love taking the teachings and exploring ways to make it learnable, make it applicable to a teenagers ' life, make it alive and worth investing in. I love the surly kid who thinks Religious Ed is a joke but is the first one to IM me when we're both online. I yearn for parents to be turned on to how great thier kids are and how great ALL of the teachings are and that their kids WANT it all. I love knowing my fellow ministers work endless hours to bring even one kid closer to Christ.

So, I will continue my blog to support you. It may transform a little more into Mike Yaconelli's style. I appreciated his editorials and topical monthly journals, whether I could relate or not. I love their motto: You love kids. We Love You.

With great respect and deference to Youth Specialties I say the same: You are the front lines. You are working long hours. You worry, fret, pray and labor.

You love Kids.
I Love You.


Blogger Jaime said...

I've said it before, being a youth minister is a lot like being a manager of a baseball team. You can do a good job and still get fired.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Crafty P said...

I can't even remember how I found your site, but I hope you don't mind me recommending you this new ministry called, ImpactCenter.

Reading this post made my heart break b/c it just isn't fair in so many ways. Maybe fair isn't the right word here, it's more like- you just weren't set up for success. Your pastor probably wasn't prepared for you; communication wasn't happening between anyone in the parish core; etc etc.

anyway, Karen and Jim at the ImpactCenter are trying to change a lot of how youth ministers are hired and retained in their parishes. It's truly an amazing ministry.

Check it out or you can email me if you're wondering why I would even take the time to comment.

God Bless.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Whiteboy said...

Perhaps it was just me being naive...but it saddens me that something like this is more frequent that we'd like to think. I know...I've been there too. I was recently fired from a position after 6 months - one that I moved a significant distance to accept. Why was I fired you asked? Well, I had a problem with teaching Protestant theology at a Catholic Church - particularly during Mass. I won't bog your comment box with details - let's just say that it was incredibly rough...especially given it was my first full time YM position.

And if I hear the phrase "Purpose-Driven" any more, my body goes into a nervous twitch.

I'm with you right now - no longer in active ministry...and it hurts. I'm considering volunteering with a program...but that's an adjustment that I'm still working on.

I wish you well with your goal of putting out resources for Catholic Youth Ministry. From what I've investigated, outside of LIFE TEEN, there aren't too many excellent programming resources out there.

1:07 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Whiteboy, my heart goes out to you.

It is THE MAIN reason I started this blog. Sometimes you want to go into your office and just scream This Is So BAD! -but you can't because the rest of the staff will hear you!

Please pass it on to others. I post entries so that folks have something to read, but I really wanted to have a forum for all in youth ministry, esp in the Catholic Church.

God bless you-and if you have any ideas for resources, please let me know. I'm always looking for good recommendations to post.

CraftyP, I'll look at your site. Thanks for the info!!

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked Jaime's comment. It's been my experience also. (Even though I'm that dreaded thing, a DRE.) What pastors don't see (because they're dealing with problems of their own?) is that we lay people are as committed to our call to do what we are doing as priests are. And it really, really does hurt.

I will pray for you, especially that you will know the peace that only Christ can give.

6:20 PM  

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