In bringing our Vision to life, the first thing we needed to do was to know the stages of formation young people would need to go through to be well formed, active and joyful young Catholics.
We employ a five-stage strategy which we drew out of ‘Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish‘, ‘Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus’, ‘Plans of Hope parish mission strategy’ and our work with the Dumb Ox Ministries.
While different sources call them different names, the five aspects we actively target for forming active young Catholics are the following:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Connection is naturally the first step of our ministry. The goal of this stage is to connect young people with people in their parishes and make them feel a part of the Church community. As Forming Intentional Disciples shows in its research, people are much more likely to continue on their faith journey if they are connected to others who are walking with them in their faith journey. To help young people become, and stay, connected to the parish we have two major approaches. The first is helping parishes to establish parish specific groups targeted at young people. The second is through the ongoing development of our Source groups.
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” Job 42:5
Connection to one another is great, but greater still is the life-giving and transformative encounter we as Christians can experience with the person of Jesus Christ. Upon encountering the living Christ in prayer, young people can begin a personal relationship with God in their life. Encountering Christ is often the most essential stage of developing to spiritual maturity as it is where most people receive the desire to animate an ongoing personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To help young people in their spiritual journey we have intentionally crafted programs and experiences like The Summit, pilgrimages and SPEC retreats to give them ample opportunity for encounter with Jesus Christ in prayer.
Conversion of Heart
“For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.“ 2 Chronicles 30:9b
Once an authentic encounter with Christ has been had, ‘plans of hope’ points out how the most natural response is joy and contrition. This mixed feeling is due to a person simultaneously experiencing the overwhelming love of God and the shame of realising how they have failed to live up to such a love. What is important is that we then follow up on this experience, giving the young people opportunities to respond to this encounter and, if they so wish, ask God for the grace to change their life in fairly fundamental ways. Several ways we allow for this to happen are: specific programs like ECHO and the Source that break open Christian living and life; promotion of the sacraments; and promotion of spiritual direction.
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen“ 2 Peter 3:18
Upon having a conversion of heart, young people naturally look to develop their understanding of their new faith. We believe that this understanding is most fully realised in the objective truths found within the Bible, the Church and the Sacraments. The fourth stage of our ministry involves having intentionally crafted programmes that teach the art of Christian living and loving at a deeper level than looked at before. Community and prayer are naturally still supported and this stage aims to help nurture the friendships that have developed along this spiritual journey. Examples of the programmes we run for people at this stage are Resonate, the Source and the SPEC mission year.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.“ Matthew 28:19
God calls us to participate in His mission. How we serve in this mission is deeply personal. Our hope is that by going through the various stages of our programme, young people will be well equipped to discern this mission God asks of them.
We are also keen to provide for, and support, people interested in getting involved in youth ministry. For those aged 18-25 we have the SPEC mission year that both equips missionaries with the skills they need and gives them the opportunity to minister to the young people of the diocese. For those looking to go into long-term ministry, we help set up and support various parish youth workers and lay chaplains across the diocese. Our youth worker network aims to provide training, support and community to these brilliant people and is available to be joined whether you are a young person.