Over the past two decades, the Church in the United States has been greatly enriched by the renewal of ministry with adolescents. In September 1976, the Department of Education of the United States Catholic Conference issued a new vision for ministry with young people that blended the best of past efforts with emerging ideas from leaders across the country. A Vision of Youth Ministry articulated the philosophy, goals, principles, and components of a new direction in the Church’s ministry with adolescents. This vision was expressed as: “Youth Ministry 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” (p. 6). This pattern of responding to the needs of young people and involving young people -- with their gifts and energy -- in the life of the community guided the dynamic approach to ministry presented in A Vision of Youth Ministry.
Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry builds on the fine tradition begun by the 1976 document, A Vision of Youth Ministry. It has been expanded to address the call to personal discipleship, evangelization, and leadership. To respond to the new challenges and opportunities of our day the Catholic bishops of the United States offer Renewing the Vision -- a blueprint for the continued development of effective ministry with young and older adolescents.
Renewing the Vision is a call to make ministry with adolescents a concern for the entire church community, especially for leaders in parishes, schools, and dioceses. The Holy Father has emphasized repeatedly the importance of young people and ministry with them. His words at World Youth Day 1995 called the Church to become the “traveling companion of young people.”
What is needed today is a Church which knows how to respond to the expectations of young people. Jesus wants to enter into dialogue with them and, through his body which is the Church, to propose the possibility of a choice which will require a commitment of their lives. As Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus, so the Church must become today the traveling companion of young people ... (Youth: Sent to Proclaim True Liberation, World Youth Day 1995, Philippines).
Renewing the Vision takes up the Holy Father’s challenge by focusing the Church’s ministry with adolescents on three essential goals: (1) empowering young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today; (2) drawing young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the faith community; and (3) fostering the personal and spiritual growth of each young person. To accomplish these goals it will take a practical framework for utilizing the resources of the entire faith community and integrating ministry with adolescents and their families into the total life and mission of the Church.
Renewing the Vision is most importantly an affirmation of the faith, gifts, energy, and fresh ideas of young people. It is a Christ-centered vision. It is a call to empower young people for the mission they have been given by the Lord Jesus. As the Holy Father said to the young people gathered in Denver at World Youth Day 1993:
At this stage of history, the liberating message of the Gospel of life has been put into your hands. And the mission of proclaiming it to the ends of the earth is now passing to your generation, the young Church. We pray with the whole Church that we can meet the challenge of providing “coming generations with reasons for living and hoping” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 31).
|Most Reverend G. Patrick Ziemann
Committee on the Laity
|Most Reverend Roger L. Schwietz, OMI|
Subcommittee on Youth