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New series keeps youth involved in faith

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Above image compiled from Lighthouse Catholic Media promotional graphics.

By Walt Schaefer
For The Catholic Telegraph 

Keeping youth involved in the faith ranks as one of the key concerns of the church in today’s secular society. After all, today’s young Catholics will be the leaders of tomorrow’s church.

Four parishes in the archdiocese will be the first in the area to offer a new series dubbed: YDisciple — a concerted effort to ensure young Catholics, 14 to 18 years old, are grounded in and knowledgeable about their faith.

The four parishes that have paid to implement the series are: St. Susanna, Mason; St. John Neumann, Fairfield; St. Gertrude. Madeira, and St. Maximilian Kolbe, Liberty Township.

“We want to see our teens formed in their faith and strong enough in their faith as they move on to their college years,” said Louise Karas, who works as a YDisciple regional specialist and support for the Augustine Institute in partnership with Lighthouse Catholic Media. Through YDisciple, “They become examples in their schools and college communities. They are living examples of our faith. We want them to take ownership of their faith so that when they off to college they take that ownership with them. Then they become examples to others,” Karas said.

“We want them to be able to know and understand that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and what that really means and how to articulate it to others. We want them to be able to interact with Catholics and non-Catholics because that’s the real world. Before they get to college, we want to teach them something about their faith and something about their church itself and why it is important to be part of a parish community. We want them to understand that they have purpose and that they can be eucharistic ministers or lectors. Bringing them into this environment gets involved in their churches and they can actually get involved and feel comfortable,” Karas said.

An adverse impact of today’s society already has influenced young Americans. According to Sherry Wendell-Forming of International Disciples, “Seventy-nine percent of those who have dropped the name ‘Catholic’ and claim no church affiliation of any kind have done so by age 23, even though many of them were involved in parish ministry during their high school years.”

A recent introductory workshop for parish youth ministers, adult volunteers and adult mentors of the four parishes was conducted at St. Gertrude and drew 46 attendees. It was presented by Sean Dalton, director of YDisciple/Augustine Institute of Denver, Colo.

The backbone of YDisciple is formation of same-sex youth groups of five to eight teens led by youth ministers, or adult volunteers with parental involvement included, Karas explained.

“We are recommending not to have coed groups…and also try to keep them somewhere in the same age group. Because a 14-year-old is different than an 18-year-old. Boys and girls question things differently. It’s easier to speak about issues in like groups, otherwise they may hold themselves back if they are with the other gender,” Karas explained.

“They may be talking about a movie they watched or activity they did and the adult mentors may not actually get them to talk about all of the things they really need to if you have boys and girls together. They don’t view things the same way. If you have a mixture you may not keep certain conversations going.” she said.

Each group meets three times monthly. “One time is the actual teaching of the YDisciple series.  That’s when they’re going to be learning. The next will concentrate on learning about the church, and the third is to go out and do an activity or service project together,” Karas said.

The meetings are an hour and a half.  When they come in they are going to do a process we call: ‘Connect, Discuss, Commit.’ You connect through questions and exercises we do together. We have Scripture and prayer and then discuss the content we are learning and presenting. After the short videos, there’s a question session to talk and discuss. You put it all together and commit to a resolution,” Karas said.

The series is designed to last four years. “Then they go out and become ambassadors of our faith wherever they go. The beauty is that it brings in the parents. We have so many young people lost in their faith right now — they don’t believe in it, they don’t understand it. When they watch these videos, we email a parent sheet that explains what we did with your child tonight.  The teens at home can have an actual conversation with their parents about what happened in youth ministry,” Karas said.

“Everyone has access to the videos so you can watch them 24/7 anytime, anywhere and you can watch ahead of time. Parents can see exactly what we’re talking about.  It is all on computer.

Pastors or parish youth minsters interested in exploring the YDisciple series may contact Louise Karas at 513-312-5110, or [email protected].


Posted March 12, 2015.
This story is a TheCatholicTelegraph.com web exclusive.

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