How to Mentor

A good mentor models faith and accompanies others on their journey to making life choices. Young adults look for "objective" mentors and spiritual guides whose goal is not so much recruitment as detached discernment. Young people desire to see people filled with zeal, passion, joy, and love as they go about their life. At the same time, they are not naïve to think a committed life is all "fireworks" and "happily ever after." We need to invite them and share our excitement and deep love of Christ and the church.

If young people see that in our brokenness we continue to walk in faith, hope, and love, then it is not as overwhelming for them to make commitments, to sacrifice, to risk, to give of themselves and still radiate joy and peace. They need to know they are not weird for thinking the way they do. They need to be affirmed of their giftedness. They need to be challenged to give of themselves. Mentoring means walking with young people in their search.

Mentors listen and are attentive and help one discern God's unique call to them. They do not conceal life struggles, but share them appropriately. Young people are not looking for a perfect mentor, but someone not afraid of being authentic, honest, and generous in letting them into his/her story, his/her faith journey, while setting appropriate boundaries.

Suggestions Based on the Third Continental Congress on Vocations (p. 79 ff.)

• Create discernment teams in parishes and college campuses consisting of faith-filled people who can help and nurture vocations.

• Ask older people (retired priests, religious, deacons, lay leaders) to serve as wisdom people to share personal stories.

• Invite spiritual directors to share their skills and offer young people opportunities to be heard.

• Provide "shadowing" experiences, so young people get a feel of a typical day of priests, religious, lay leaders.

Additionally remind priests and religious to tithe 10 percent of their time for being "present" to young people.

Make sure that adults mentoring follow diocesan policies for safe environment.

Compliments of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry