Part Three: A Plan for Ministry

Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults
November 12, 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Introduction: The Church's Ministry with Young Adults

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 this foundation.

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:

  1. Jesus Christ;

  2. the Church, by inviting and welcoming their presence in the christian community;

  3. the mission of the Church in the world;

  4. a peer community in which their faith is nurtured and strengthened.

Principles for Ministry with Young Adults in the Parish, the Diocese, and on Campus

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.

  1. Young adults internalize their beliefs and values within a supportive community and live their vocation in the world.

  2. Young adults seek opportunities for relationships with their peers and experiences that are intergenerational and multicultural.

  3. Young adults understand both the message of faith and the traditions of the Church when these are communicated through words, symbols, and activities that relate to life experiences.

  4. Young adults respond positively when the Church invites their participation and engages them in the planning of activities for the spiritual life of the community.

  5. The Church meets young adults where they are present: the workplace, the home, the campus, and the civic community.

  6. Effective ministry invites young adults into the life of the Church and collaborates with them to identify specific initiatives for the young adult community.

  7. Effective ministry assists young adults to become spiritual people, thereby developing a holistic and healthy understanding of life and deepening one's relationship with God.

  8. Effective ministry provides young adults with constructive opportunities to ask questions and to discover answers present in the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.

  9. Effective ministry with young adults engages them in peer ministry, as well as family ministry.

  10. Effective ministry acknowledges, understands, respects, and celebrates the cultural diversity of individuals and communities.

  11. Effective ministry facilitates and engages young adults in an awareness of and an invitation to the work of justice, peace, and compassion.

  12. Effective ministry includes the commitment of necessary resources for the evangelization, catechesis, and pastoral care of young adults.
The framework suggested in this section can be adapted to a variety of settings. Effective pastoral planning acknowledges the danger of designing a single approach in the expectation that it can respond adequately to all needs. This plan suggests a more dynamic and inclusive approach by involving young adults in the life of the local faith community and by developing specific initiatives within the young adult community.

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

The Parish and Young Adults

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 challenging.

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.

Goals, Objectives, and Strategies

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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