Letter to the Parish from Jake Terry, Youth Minister
I am so excited to be working here at St. Francis and to meet all the wonderful parents and kids who, with me, call this parish home. I want to share with you some of my plans for the upcoming school year and invite you to help me build the faith among our youth. There are many good approaches to youth ministry and no one way has been identified as the best method for achieving our goals. The goals are what is most important. There are good goals and poor ones, and figuring out which goal we want to pursue reveals the proper method we should use.
So what are our goals? Is it to have a big youth group? I don't think this goes far enough. A high turnout is a great thing but this is merely an effect of good youth ministry. Is it knowledgeable children and teens? This again is a fine effect of good youth ministry but is not ultimately what I think we want most of all at our parish. What do we want then? The answer, I believe, are children whose hearts have been conformed into the likeness of Christ’s.
“For I am gentle and humble of heart,” says the Lord when describing Himself. These qualities, which this world rarely seeks to instill, are what we most of all need in our Church today. This then is our goal, to create gentle and humble children who will grow up to be gentle and humble men and women. This goal cannot be achieved with only large group gatherings nor mere heady theological lectures. Rather it must be in kind, personal relationships fostered and centered around learning about and living out our faith as Roman Catholics.
Within our context I believe that a small, group-centered program will achieve this end most effectively. This allows me and my volunteers to divide and conquer, being able to care for each child in our program in a meaningful way, valuing them as a child of God and a member of our community here at St. Francis. Furthermore, we will also have monthly large group gatherings where all the various small groups will come together for fellowship with other teens and to encounter Christ in a variety of ways such as adoration, prayer, music, games, and more.
The small groups will do a similar thing, forming a community where they are loved and accepted by their peers, giving them a chance to form genuine friendships. The curriculum for the small groups will take on different forms, moving between learning the beautiful scriptures and teachings of our Church and living them out with service, work, and prayer. As St. Paul says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy, dwell on these things.” These things indeed will be the focus of our small groups.
I’m sure there will be many questions about all of this and I am looking forward to answering them. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] and share your thoughts. I am praying for all our children and for our wonderful Parish.