The Ministry of Community Life
You are a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own..." (1 Pt 2:9)
The Church is the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit and his action in the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, Christ, who once was dead and is now risen, establishes the community of believers as his own Body. In the unity of this Body there is a diversity of members and functions. All members are linked to one another, especially to those who are suffering, to the poor and persecuted (Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 805-806).
The ministry of community life builds an environment of love, support, appreciation for diversity, and judicious acceptance that models Catholic principles; develops meaningful relationships; and nurtures Catholic faith. The content of our message will be heard only when it is lived in our relationships and community life. To teach compassion, generosity, tolerance, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, and love as gospel values and to identify ourselves as Christians require us to live these values in our interactions with young people and in our community life. God's reign was proclaimed through the relationships Jesus initiated, and it continues to be heralded every time we witness our belief in him through the relationships in our community. The community life of the first Christians was a sign to everyone that Christ was in their midst (see Acts 2:42–47). The ministry of community life is not only what we do (activity), but who we are (identity) and how we interact (relationships).
Community life is nurtured when the atmosphere is welcoming, comfortable, safe, and predictable—one in which all adolescents know that their presence is welcomed, their energy is appreciated, and their contributions are valued. Community life is enhanced when leaders promote and model an attitude that is authentic, positive, accepting, and understanding—assuring all young people that they are valued and cared for as gifted individuals. Community life is encouraged when our actions are inviting, supportive, and gospel-based. Community life is created when activities build trust and encourage relationships, and are age-appropriate.
The ministry of community life with adolescents has several distinct features that give direction to community life programming. Specifically, community building with adolescents
- creates an environment characterized by gospel values that nurtures meaningful relationships among young people and between adolescents and adults;
- develops the friendship-making and friendship-maintaining skills of young people grounded in Christian values;
- enriches family relationships through programs, activities, and resources to improve skills such as family communication, decision making, and faith sharing;
- provides opportunities for multicultural community building that promote respect for young people's racial and ethnic cultures and develop skills for communication and understanding;
- engages adolescents in the life, activities, and ministries of the parish in meaningful and age-appropriate ways;
- provides avenues for adolescents to participate as members of the faith community and opportunities for the faith community to acknowledge, celebrate, and value its adolescent members;
- guides adolescents in developing:
- a healthy perspective of the joys and pains of relationships
- skills that promote positive and healthy interaction
- an attitude of welcoming and acceptance
- an understanding of Jesus' call to "love your neighbor as yourself"
- an appreciation for both the uniqueness of individuals and the support of a community united through faith
- an awareness of the importance of their role as members of the community.