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Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults
November 12, 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Catholic Church has always sought to provide ministry to people in
their late teens, twenties, and thirties through marriage preparation,
campus ministry, Catholic singles groups, military chaplaincies, and
participation in various organizations and movements. Young adult
ministry itself, as a designated area of pastoral care, has been part of
church life in many dioceses for over fifteen years. This plan applauds
these efforts and seeks to develop a more intentional ministry based on
In the introduction, we stated that one of our goals is to strengthen the relationship of young adults with the Church. As in any relationship, we need to know each other, therefore we identified the tasks and issues concerning young adults. We also discussed how our faith provides a lens through which we can view life. Now we offer a plan based on the understanding of young adults in Part One and rooted in the vision of faith developed in Part Two. We also build this plan on the foundation of past strategies such as Empowered by the Spirit, the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry, Here I Am, Send Me, and Go and Make Disciples, to name a few. We hope this plan assists you in your ministry to and with young adults.
The strategies contained in this section are not meant to be comprehensive, but to provide planners with a starting point. We believe that a successful outreach to young adults will achieve four goals. It will connect young adults with the following:
The following principles are offered to guide the development of
effective ministry with young adults. Keep these in mind when planning
new pastoral initiatives or evaluating current ministries.
One of our dreams is to be supported and encouraged by the church to carry out the commitment to our chosen vocation. We also hope the Church can be supportive of the many facets of our diversity. We hope the Church can incorporate our contributions of black Catholics into the Church's history...and abolish the notion of Blacks as new to Catholicism. We are eager to meet the challenges through assuming leadership roles, religious education, and actions of justice and peace.
Henri M. Barnwell, Virginia Beach, VA
Often, the first community that Catholics connect with is the parish.
This may be where they were baptized, where they stop by when they are
in town, or where they hope to marry. Pastoral care for young adults
requires that parishes be a home for young adults where they are
personally touched in their faith journey. Here is where most young
adults experience life cycle events —birth, marriage, and death—and
struggle with the challenges of their lives—leaving home and coming
back. The pastoral care of young adults demands a certain kind of
openness and flexibility. Parish leaders need an awareness of the life
patterns, transience, and mobility of young adults. Those who work with
young adults will need an approach that is nonjudgmental yet
While this document acknowledges that ministry with young adults takes place in many different communities, a preeminent place is given to the parish. The goals, objectives, and strategies suggested in this document are specifically directed to the pastoral care of young adults in the parish community, but they can also be easily used or adapted for ministry on campuses or military bases, or within Catholic associations.
Ministry to and with Young Adults
We have identified four goals for ministry with young adults. These goals and the following objectives, along with the principles for ministry, should guide the diocese, parish, campus, military, and organization in developing practical plans for ministry to and with young adults.
Goal One: Connecting Young Adults with Jesus Christ
Goal Two: Connecting Young Adults with the Church
Goal Three: Connecting Young Adults with the Mission of the Church in the World
Goal Four: Connecting Young Adults with a Peer Community
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