Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults
November 12, 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
To help young adults develop relationships with peers who share
similar values and beliefs which nurture and strengthen their faith,
thereby creating communities of support.
- Forming Faith Communities of Peers: To provide
opportunities for young adults to find among their peers the necessary
support and encouragement as they journey through life and fulfill their
mission to the world.
- Developing Peer Leadership: To help young adults become leaders, not only among their peers but also within the larger community.
- Identifying a Young Adult Team: To urge each parish,
movement, organization, and campus to identify a team to advocate and
respond to the needs of young adults.
Strategies to Implement Goal Four
1. Forming Faith Communities of Peers
Young adults express a need for support from and relationships with
others who are their own age or are in similar situations. We urge
pastors and other church leaders to develop specific opportunities for
young adults to be together. While it will be helpful to have someone
from the parish or campus staff as a point of contact, young adults
should be the organizers and leaders of these efforts. We know from
experience that they are effective ministers, especially among their
Activities for Single Young Adults
Today, a sizable number of men and women remain single during their late
teens, twenties, and thirties. It is important for the Church to have
an appropriate ministry with single Catholics. Many single people speak
of feeling left out of parish life when the focus is solely on families.
Single young adults can be a rich resource of time and talent for the
local faith community. Suggested strategies for the Church's ministry
with single men and women include the following:
Programs to Assist Newly Married
- Invite single men and women to participate in the parish's liturgical, catechetical, social justice, and youth ministries.
- Allow single young adults to plan social and spiritual
activities for people in similar life situations. Some singles may wish
to form a small Christian community for prayer, scripture study, and
- Plan a retreat or discussion group with topics of
interest to single people such as dating, sexuality, loneliness,
careers, and volunteerism. The content should view these issues through
the "lens" of faith and provide adequate time for discussion and sharing
of personal stories.
- Discuss with the organizations and ministries of the
parish how they can welcome and involve single men and women in their
Once the wedding is over and the honeymoon is a wonderful memory, the
real work of marriage begins. The faith community should continue the
hospitality and welcome offered during the marriage preparation period,
so the couple remains part of the local church. In fact, we can describe
Christian marriage preparation as "a journey of faith that does not end
with the celebration of marriage but continues throughout life."41
Follow-up ministry with newly married couples develops what was begun in marriage preparation.42
Suggestions for follow-up include the following:
Encouragement for Families with Young Children
- Send anniversary cards, hold a newly married couples
support group in the parish, or host an anniversary supper for couples
married in the past year. This shows an ongoing concern for the couples
and helps to keep them connected during the early years of marriage,
when the divorce rate is highest.
- Consider extending the mentoring process for engaged
couples through the first year of marriage, especially if the couples
remain in the area.
- Invite married couples to participate in a parish ministry or activity.
- Be sensitive to time constraints. Do not automatically exclude young couples who frequently enjoy ministering in the parish.
- Sponsor discussion or educational groups to consider
issues relating to maintaining a marriage. Some themes might include
changing relationships in the families of origin, managing a household,
finances, communication, disagreements, and understanding of the
theology of marriage.
- Invite those celebrating anniversaries to renew their marriage vows at special Sunday liturgies during the year.
- Inform their new parish when newly married couples move from the parish.
- Provide couples who are struggling in their marriages with information about marriage counseling.
- Create educational, spiritual, and social
opportunities where young married couples can be with each other. This
can include the formation of small christian communities.
Young adults who are starting a family are entering a world that is
quite unfamiliar to them. Finding support and affirmation from family,
friends, and the church community can enable them to adjust to these new
experiences, which are both joyful and stressful. In this manner, the
Church supports parents as the primary evangelizers and educators of
their children. Some of the ways to minister to families with young
children include the following:
- Develop a support group for parents of young children.
Identify times and places that are convenient and accessible. Provide
the opportunity for child care during activities and programs.
- Invite experienced parents to mentor young couples who
are having their first child. This can be especially helpful for those
without family in the area.
- Design a retreat for new parents, centered on the gift of life.
- Identify liturgical opportunities throughout the year
to celebrate parenthood and families, for example, Baptism of the Lord
(January), Holy Family Sunday (December).
- Develop a special prayer booklet with prayers and family-centered home activities for meal times and evenings.
2. Developing Peer Leadership
If the Church is to continue to regenerate and renew its members, the
training of young adults is key. Young men and women already provide
valuable service in the Church. Parishes and campuses should provide
them with leadership training, especially for core members of the young
adult commission and parish staff.
Young adults recognize that training is central to competency. They have
been trained for their job, profession, or trade. They continuously
attend workshops and seminars to increase their knowledge and skills.
They expect to be managed with competence and treated with respect and
dignity. For the growth of the Church, continuing education is also
necessary. Young adults who volunteer time for parish ministry will need
to learn more about the Church and to develop the necessary ministerial
skills. To develop peer leadership, include the following strategies:
- Provide leadership training for young adults in
peer ministry. These can be weekend and/or evening programs. They can be
sponsored by the diocese or campus or held in conjunction with a lay
ministry formation program.
- Use adult education principles in peer leadership development.
- Choose topics for training programs such as
starting a ministry, building core teams, planning activities, and
working with volunteers. Also, familiarize young adult leaders with the
teachings and traditions of the Church.
- Develop an informational program for the
pastoral staff, leadership team, and pastoral council on ministering
with young adults. Topics can include the faith and life development of
young adults and principles for ministry with young adults.
What does the Church and the pope expect of the young people . . . ?
That you confess Jesus Christ. And that you learn to proclaim all that
the message of Christ contains for the true liberation and genuine
progress of humanity. This is what Christ expects of you. This is what
the Church looks for in you.
World Youth Day Vigil at Luneta Park, January 14, 1995
3. Identifying a Young Adult Team
In this plan, we suggest that each parish, organization, and campus, where possible, identify a
young adult team and/or a contact person. This team is the link between
the Church and the local young adult community. The team advocates for
the needs of young adults and works with someone on the staff as a point
of reference. The team also can plan and implement activities and
programs directed to the young adult community. The team should be given
adequate training and be willing to collaborate with those responsible
for the various ministries of the community. Young adult team leaders
may wish to identify one contact person as a liaison with the diocese
and other young adult efforts.
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