Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults
November 12, 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
To make contact with young adults and to invite and welcome them to
participate in the life and mission of the Christian community, which
proclaims Jesus Christ by preaching the Gospel.
- Evangelizing Outreach: To identify places where young
adults gather and to connect them personally with the Church by
listening to their concerns, hopes, and dreams and by welcoming them
into a community of faith.
- Forming the Faith Community: To invite, empower, and
enable young adults to participate in the life of the Church through
worship, community life, small faith communities, and evangelizing
efforts, and on committees, in ministries, and in Catholic movements and
- Pastoral Care: To provide activities, visitations, and
counseling opportunities that respond to the spiritual and developmental
needs of young adults.
Test everything; retain what is good.
1 Thes 5: 21
Strategies to Implement Goal Two
1. Evangelizing Outreach
There are many opportunities to touch the lives of young adults, and
these should be seen as moments for evangelizing outreach. Some of these
may require a change in the way we approach evangelization so our
outreach is more dynamic, taking the Church into the community where
young adults gather rather than waiting for these men and women to come
to us. Others include identifying situations where young adults already
connect with the Church such as sacramental preparation programs and
Sunday eucharist. Several strategies to consider include the following:
- Invite young adults into church life through
personal contact, telephone calls, bulletin notices, letters, the
Internet, and e-mail.
- Provide written materials in several languages and be
sensitive to diverse ethnic traditions in order to reach young adults
from different cultures.
- Encourage young adults who are involved in church life to invite their friends and other peers to community events.
- Identify places where young adults gather such as the
workplace, shopping areas, health clubs, campuses, athletic fields, and
civic associations, and make time to be present at these places of
2. Forming the Faith Community
An Invitation to Participation
Throughout the history of the Church, people in their late teens,
twenties, and thirties have been an active segment of church life. As
our listening sessions indicated, that is not necessarily true today.
Therefore, it is important to make an effort to invite and welcome them
personally into church life. Young adults will participate when they
perceive that the invitation is authentic and that their participation
is constructive. Once the invitation is extended, it is important to
match skills and talents with the needs of the community and to have a
plan for follow-up. When ministering among young adults, remember the
- Young adults who are single will have different
needs and concerns, and they have different life schedules than those
who are married or married with children.
- Those who minister with young adults, including
the parish staff and members of the parish council, may need specific
training and orientation.
- The invitation to participate may need to be
repeated. young adults may not believe that they are truly being invited
because of past experiences.
Some strategies for inviting young adults to participate in the faith community include the following:
- Develop, with young adults, activities and
materials that specifically target their developmental needs, especially
prayer groups and small Christian communities that place value on
dialogue and shared communal experiences.
- Use community meetings and surveys to identify
the concerns of young adults. Ask participating young adults to talk
with and invite their friends and co-workers.
- Welcome and involve young adults in the planning of church events.
- Provide opportunities for recent college
graduates or vacationing students to reconnect with the parish. Ask
students who are home for the summer to assist as liturgical ministers,
work with the youth program, be a summer catechist, or visit the sick or
elderly. Host a gathering for new graduates and parishioners to learn
more about becoming active within the life of the community.
Life-Giving Prayer and Worship
Liturgy is a key concern of young adults and is a primary meeting point
with the Church. The quality of church life is often reflected in the
prayerfulness and quality of its liturgy, which can be a connecting
point between faith and life. One challenge to that connection is the
need for the community to respect the diverse language traditions,
spirituality, and piety of its many ethnic groups. Consistently, young
adults speak of the life-giving power of good and prayerful liturgy and
the pain and emptiness associated with poor liturgical experiences. They
tell us that key ingredients to good liturgy are a welcoming community,
celebrating in one's language, good music, and engaging homilies.
Strategies connecting young adults with liturgy and worship include the
- Encourage homilists to address a wide range of life's issues.
- Invite young adults to be liturgical ministers, and provide the necessary training.
- Be flexible and respect their time availability when developing criteria for participation in liturgical ministries.
- Remember the needs and life experiences of young adults when preparing prayers.
- Extend a special invitation to men and women in
their late teens, twenties, and thirties to participate in prayer and
- Remember that worship in most parishes is
intergenerational, gathering in single persons, students, and married
couples with or without children.
3. Pastoral Care
The Church has many opportunities to provide young adults with pastoral
care. At these times, it is important to be sensitive to their issues
and to respond pastorally. The following are some of the strategies for
pastoral care with young adults:
- Train people who provide pastoral care
and counseling in parishes, on campuses, in the military, or within
organizations and movements to be aware of the developmental tasks of
- Form a peer-counseling or support group.
- Provide a means of communication so
young adults who are sick at home or in the hospital can be visited by
someone from the parish and can receive the sacraments.
- Consider providing, in cooperation with
trained professionals, intervention and prevention programs for young
adults at risk for drug and sexual abuse.
Return to Contents Page