Worship. Serve. Grow.

Hope for the Journey: Our Youth

A new meditation from Fr. George in the Hope for the Journey series. You can view the complete series here and join the discussion on Facebook.

We have called these regular reflections from me and Javier “Hope for the Journey.” This past Sunday’s celebration of the Eucharist offered us some real hope for the journey as we walk together during this time. If you have not had a chance to view the recording on Facebook, I call your attention to the homily given by Emily Schertz and McKenna Jeffries.

Emily and McKenna gave such a rich expression of what life for a young person at St. Paul’s can be about, and what it can be about for all of us. They shared their hearts and joys and pains. 

Many, many years ago, Youth Ministry was often seen as a ministry that adults provided for youth. It was often described as ministry to youth or ministry for youth. It led to the often quoted idea that “youth are the future of the church.” Many saw youth ministry as one of preparation for future ministry when the youth grew up. 

Just a couple year after I was ordained a priest, having spent just two years in parish ministry, my bishop asked me to leave parochial ministry to become a high school teacher in one of the diocesan high schools. With this came the expectation of a return to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in Religious Studies and Religious Education from Fordham University in the Bronx. What I enjoyed most about that time was being surrounded by fellow students who were involved in youth ministry, and not just in the educational setting but in parish life as well. The professors were extraordinary in their fields. 

It was a time of transformation of a dominant paradigm of youth ministry. No longer seen as a ministry to youth or for youth, but rather a ministry of youth, by youth and with youth. The emphasis changed from “youth are the future of the church” to “youth are the church today.”

And here at St. Paul’s, the ministry of the youth of our parish has been one not to youth or for youth, but of, by and with youth. And I believe you heard that in Emily and McKenna’s homily on Sunday. You heard about the youth leadership of youth ministry at St. Paul’s. You heard how their lives have been changed through relationships with youth and those adults involved in youth ministry. You heard about the ministry of ASP, led by our youth, and the relationships they build with the families whose homes they repair in rural poor communities.

And the adults who work with this ministry see themselves in ministry together with youth. Their wisdom and guidance walks side by side with the youth. It is a community of ministry with adults and youth walking together. 

You have heard me say this so often, but I believe the youth play an essential leadership role in our parish life together. They are a community that reminds us and models for us our call to be in relationship with one another and the larger community beyond ourselves. 

As I continue to walk through these times with you, I find hope for the journey from our youth. I hope you do too.

— Fr. George


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