Partnership & Youth
The Presence of Young People
Without the presence and voice of young people, the Partnership Development Group will be incomplete. The parish responses to the Forward Together in Hope questionnaire demonstrated this sincere desire to bring young people into their midst and the recognition that they are a life-giving part of our community keeping the Church youthful and moving forward.
As the Partnership seeks to involve and listen to young people, several ways can be considered.
- Representation on the Partnership Development Group: it would be ideal to include in the membership young adults 18 – 30. If young people are under the age of 18, they would need parental consent and could perhaps be invited after the group has become established and is ready to receive and hear them.
- A different option with the under 18s could be to set up a Youth Forum. This would be a personal invitation to young people to come together at Partnership level e.g. young people who are currently involved in parishes; or a post Confirmation group; or a group of sixth formers from the local secondary school. This may be an invitation initially to come to a one-off meeting whilst it may grow into a group who would like to meet more often. Plan how to facilitate the meeting so that an enjoyable and fruitful ‘conversation’ takes place with the young people and the PDG. Pope Francis, in preparation for the 2018 Synod on youth, reminded us that ‘every young person has something to say’.
Plan for the Meeting
Welcome and Introduction
For an example of a meeting click here:
- If the Partnership has young people who are members of the Diocesan Youth Council, it would be good to meet with them and hear from them. Contact YMT for details.
- As a Partnership, why not call young people into leadership and peer ministry? For example, invite young people to become ‘young catechists’ for the Confirmation programme(s). (See Examples of Peer Ministry)
Partnership Youth Ministry Group
Everyone has a role in this vital ministry of accompanying and supporting our young Church. However, to keep youth ministry on the agenda and to develop it on behalf of the Partnership, it will be important to set up a team of people who will take on this task.
Over the last few years, the Youth Ministry Team has worked closely with groups of co-workers (adults who support and work with young people) in different parts of the Diocese. In many Partnerships, a dedicated group of committed adults meet regularly to keep youth ministry on the agenda, to network and share ideas and to provide opportunities to support young people on their faith journey. A Partnership budget for youth ministry is an initiative to be considered enabling young people to participate in opportunities.
- Speak to appropriate people in the Partnership structure e.g. Parish Priests, Partnership Dean, and Partnership Development Chair.
- A group to coordinate youth ministry already existed in many of the former deaneries and this group can be built upon to incorporate representation from each parish in the Partnership.
- Invite a staff representative from the local secondary school to be part of the group.
- Consider appropriate representation of young people.
- Invite the YMT Area Area Development Coordinator to meet the group. Contact YMT
- Appoint a link person from the Partnership Development Group to give feedback and contribute to further decisions and actions.
Purpose of the Partnership Youth Ministry Group
A good starting place is to write a sentence or two describing the vision and aims of the group. This will take time, but it will be time well invested for the future. Do ensure this vision is linked to and flows from the Partnership vision.
Think about organising a Saturday morning or a couple of hours one evening to meet, get to know each other, reflect on youth ministry and spend some time in prayer. (See Sample Outline of Meeting)
Running your Meetings
Meeting regularly will allow the group to:
Get to know each other
Share good practice
Encourage each other
Build up a plan
Put things into action
Review, evaluate and follow up…take further steps
Integrated Youth Ministry Strategies
Let the parish communities know that the partnership group is meeting on their behalf to ‘hold’ an overview for youth ministry and to develop on-going support for young people step by step. Ensure each parish knows who their representatives are.
Keep the communities informed about the opportunities for and with young people in the partnership and beyond. Encourage parishes to offer these opportunities to their young people. Suggest that they ask the various groups within the parish to spend a short time thinking about how to offer to young people what they already do. What invitations can be given to young people to be involved at local level? Facilitate opportunities for young people and adult parishioners to meet.
Pray for young people and those who work with them. Provide a prayer card for the housebound. Organise a time of prayer, perhaps with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and invite all parishioners to come and pray and light a candle for their children, grandchildren, young people in the parish as well as young people in other parts of the world.
Effective youth ministry requires a strong partnership between the church communities, the primary schools and the secondary school. For many families, the Catholic school is their only point of contact with the Church and thus our schools are of the utmost importance as places where we can encounter and encourage young people.
An integrated youth ministry strategy would bring primary school and parish together to make a joint plan for supporting young people and their families and to give opportunities for them to experience belonging to the community and to grow in faith. A representative group (e.g. parish council member, catechist, parent, Head teacher, Governor, chaplain) would meet to plan on a termly basis and ensure good communication, integrate children and families into parish life and allow new opportunities to be developed. For example, parishioners working with the school to offer a children’s prayer group; parishioners sharing their faith creatively with a class; Mini Vinnies linking with the parish SVP.
At secondary school level, the relationship with the chaplain is central to the Partnership’s vision for a collaborative and consistent programme of opportunities for young people to experience faith both inside and outside of school. In recent years, almost two thousand young people from our Diocese have experienced the Flame Congress and this is a wonderful example of schools and local parishes working together to encourage and facilitate young people to take part in an event which affirms young people in their faith and sends them out as missionary disciples.
My time as a Youth Ministry Coordinator was challenging but hugely rewarding. Challenging because there are so many opportunities to engage with young people to explore and celebrate their faith. Rewarding because, in time, you can see them really grow in that faith; and you can grow in yours too.
I worked with over 40 volunteers, both in schools and parishes, to provide more than 50 activities over the course of a year. From weekly prayer groups to winter barbeques to residential retreats, the possibilities only seemed limited by our creativity. And that was the real joy of the job: young people and adults coming together to dream dreams and then make them happen. Being employed for the task in hand meant I had the time, the energy and the focus but, as often as not, the ideas were other people’s.
Of course, it wasn’t always plain sailing and there were many struggles and disappointments along the way; but we found that God has a habit of making use even of those. Young people, in general, do not do church in the way that we do, but that is not to say that they have no faith. To journey with them and discover new ways was truly a wonderful adventure.
Youth Ministry Coordinator for the Holy Family Parish, Hartlepool 2001-2015
My name is Hannah and for the past year and a half, I have been working as the Children’s Ministry Coordinator for the parish of St John XXIII in Washington and Penshaw. The main goal of this role is to create links between our parish and school communities, to help two groups that often feel rather separate realise they are part of one family. When I first started in the role it was brand new and we spent a lot of time figuring out exactly what the role was going to be. The beauty of it is, that it can be whatever your parish needs it to be; for example, in our parish we already had many links within the parish and school community and my role was about strengthening those as well as forging new ones.
At first, I believed that these links would be created by sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience that our regular parishioners have with our young people. While this is important and does contribute to the children feeling as though they are a part of the parish family, it is very much a two-way process. It is easy to forget how profound the faith of a child can be and how much a child’s faith can impact the parish around them. It is truly something to behold and something that each and every parish can benefit from. Some of the most difficult and challenging questions about God, the Church and love have been proffered by Year 2 children; some of the most remarkable statements about faith have been made midweek by Year 5 and some of the most sincere and beautiful prayers have been shared in a weekly lunchtime prayer group with KS1. Having the privilege of being able to share in this, both in school and in the parish is amazing.
Hannah Mitchell (CMC)
Children’s Ministry Coordinator for the Parish of St John XXIII, Washington 2016 -2018