WASHINGTON (May 21, 1999) -- The Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Subcommittee on Youth said the recent killings in Littleton, Colorado, underscore the urgency of addressing societal issues, including violence, that affect youth.
"Prevention of such violence is the key and it is in the name of prevention that we continue to uphold our promise to young people through ," said Bishop Roger L. Schwietz, OMI, of Duluth, Chair of the Youth Subcommittee.
The U.S. Bishops' Communities for Youth initiative was formally established last November--in cooperation with "America's Promise-The Alliance for Youth"--to help at-risk youth across the nation. "Just as all young people can be affected by tragedy, all young people should benefit from such programs," Bishop Schwietz said.
America's Promise is a program headed by General Colin Powell to provide young people, especially those who are marginalized, with resources needed for productive and fulfilling lives.
These resources include access to ongoing relationships with caring adults, safe places and structured activities, health care, development of marketable skills and opportunities to serve, in order to gain the confidence, character and competence needed to contribute to society.
At a press conference here this week, Gen. Powell released a document called "America's Promise: 1999 Report to the Nation." The report highlighted the efforts the Bishops have undertaken through their Communities for Youth initiative.
The Communities for Youth initiative currently consists of pilot programs in three dioceses, the Archdiocese of Miami, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, and the Diocese of Phoenix. "The pilot programs show great promise for all young people in those areas, and we are encouraged by the growing interest, among dioceses, for this initiative," Bishop Schweitz said.
The three pilot dioceses continue to find new ways to reach out to young people. The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph recently hired a coordinator who plans to focus some attention on young people living in rural communities, noting that all young people need assistance and support, not only those who live in cities. The Phoenix diocese continues to work within a four square mile neighborhood, one of the worst in Phoenix. They are involved in after school tutoring programs and support groups for those previously involved in the juvenile justice system. The Archdiocese of Miami is aiming at providing at least two new sites for after-school mentoring, tutoring, and opportunities in athletics, music and art.
In 1994, the Bishops published Confronting a Culture of Violence-A Catholic Framework for Action, and in 1997 they produced Renewing the Vision-A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry. Both publications are available from the United States Catholic Conference at 1-800-235-8722.