Renewing the Vision
A framework for Catholic Youth Ministry
In James Heft’s Passing on the Faith (2006; Fordham University Press), Christian Smith states that modernity’s differentiation of institutional spheres, rationalization of social life, materialism and naturalism embedded in capitalism and science, liberal disestablishment of religion in politics, and other disenchanting and secularizing modern social forces are often said to corrode religious sensibilities and undermine religious authority, making the religious socialization of the next generation all the more difficult. (p.55) Sociologist Nancy Ammerman raises the question, “Will our children have a faith to guide them?” (p.37) Will they?
Even though “Renewing the Vision” is aimed at adolescents, I like to give this book to all the catechists that I work with from K-8th grades.
This work, condensed from the bishops’ 1976 document, “A Vision of Youth Ministry”, is a concise treatise on what is needed in youth ministry. It defines 8 components can be used across the board in all ages of catechesis. In each of the 8 ministries: Advocacy, Catechesis, Community Life, Evangelization, Justice and Service, Leadership Development, Pastoral Care, and Prayer and Worship; goals are established that contribute to the YM’s vision and enhance the possibilities of lesson plans that include these well defined components.
The last part of the book gives a guiding image for ministry with adolescents using the story of the walk to Emmaus Lk 24:13-35 with its emphasis on the relationship between young disciples and their Lord. A relationship that is characterized by presence, listening, faith sharing, and celebration. (p.49). The Emmaus story will continue to guide the Church’s ministry with adolescents, but a new image is emerging, the image of young people with a mission.