Renewing the Vision: Notes


  1. New Directions in Youth Ministry: A New Study of Catholic Youth Ministry Program Participants (Final Report, July 1996) conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is available in full report or executive summary from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 3700-A Oakview Terrace NE, Washington, DC 20017-2591. The following is a summary of the findings identified in the text.

    Ways to Grow
    When asked the areas in which youth ministry had most helped them to grow, young people named the following nine ways at the top of their list ("very much" responses):
    • Understanding my Catholic faith better (52%)
    • Making serious life choices (52%)
    • Choosing right from wrong (50%)
    • Having a safe and caring place to go (50%)
    • Deepening my relationship with Jesus (49%)
    • Experiencing what it means to be Catholic (48%)
    • Discussing problems facing youth today (48%)
    • Getting more involved in parish life (48%)
    • Developing pride in who I am (48%)

    Commitment to the Catholic Church
    Almost all are "proud to be Catholic" (94%) and "admire the pope" (89%). Virtually all report that they "feel welcome at church" (90%). Females are more likely to support these statements than males.

    Sunday Mass Attendance
    Youth ministry program participants report more frequent attendance at worship than their friends, their parents, or other adults significant in their lives. There is a strong connection between participation in youth ministry programs and Mass attendance.
    • Fifty-eight percent attend Mass weekly and another 14 percent attend more than  weekly, for a total of 72 percent who attend once a week or more.
    • Another 12 percent report attendance on the order of once or twice a month.

    Continued Growth
    Youth ministry makes a deeper impression on participants the longer they participate. Perhaps the strongest way to measure the effectiveness of youth ministry is to contrast the ninth graders with the twelfth graders. For the thirty-five ways youth ministry could have helped, thirty-two were given much higher average scores by those in twelfth grade. Below are the eight areas with average scores that increased by twenty points or more when ninth graders are compared to twelfth graders.
    • Developing my leadership skills (32 points)
    • Developing my relationship skills (27 points)
    • Discussing problems facing youth today (23 points)
    • Preparing me to share my faith (22 points)
    • Doing service projects to help other people (22 points)
    • Feeling like I belong to a community (22 points)
    • Providing ministry to my peers (22 points)
    • Helping the Church better serve youth (20 points)
  2. The Search Institute has identified several factors contributing to the breakdown:
    • Many adults no longer consider it their responsibility to play a role in the lives of youth outside their family.
    • Parents are less available for their children because of demands outside the home and cultural norms that undervalue parenting.
    • Adults and institutions have become uncomfortable articulating values or enforcing appropriate boundaries for behavior.
    • Society has become more and more age-segregated, providing fewer opportunities for meaningful intergenerational relationships.
    • Socializing systems (families, schools, congregations, etc.) have become more isolated, competitive, and suspicious of each other.
    • The mass media have become influential shapers of young people's attitudes, norms, and values.
    • As problems—and solutions—have become more complex, more of the responsibility for young people has been turned over to professionals.
  3. The forty developmental assets, identified through national research by the Search Institute, are powerful shapers of young people's behavior. Assets help to inoculate youth from high-risk behaviors (e.g., use of alcohol and drugs, antisocial behavior, sexual activity). As assets increase, the incidence of high-risk behaviors decreases. Developmental assets also promote positive outcomes. As assets increase, so do school success, the affirmation of diversity, educational aspirations, and prosocial behavior. Young people with a greater number of assets are more likely to grow up caring, competent, healthy, and responsible. This important relationship between developmental assets and choices made has been documented for all types of youth, regardless of age, gender, geographic region, town size, or race/ethnicity.

    These forty developmental assets have been identified through research by the Search Institute (USA) as forming a foundation for healthy development in children and adolescents. The following information is excerpted from Search Institute research (© 1996 Search Institute).

    External Assets

    Family Support—family life provides high levels of love and support.
    Positive Family Communication—young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek parental advice and counsel.
    Other Adult Relationships—young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
    Caring Neighborhood—young person experiences caring neighbors.
    Caring School Climate—school provides a caring, encouraging environment.
    Parent Involvement in Schooling—parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.

    Community Values Youth—young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
    Youth as Resources—young people are given useful roles in the community.
    Community Service—young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
    Safety—young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.

    Boundaries and Expectations
    Family Boundaries—family has clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person's whereabouts.
    School Boundaries—school provides clear rules and consequences.
    Neighborhood Boundaries—neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people's behavior.
    Adult Role Models—parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
    Positive Peer Influence—young person's best friends model responsible behavior.
    High Expectations—both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

    Time Use
    Creative Activities—young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
    Youth Programs—young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.
    Religious Community—young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution.
    Time at Home—young person is out with friends "with nothing special to do" two or fewer nights per week.

    Internal Assets

    Educational Commitment
    Achievement Motivation—young person is motivated to do well in school.
    School Performance—young person has a B average or better.
    Homework—young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
    Bonding to School—young person cares about her or his school.
    Reading for Pleasure—young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

    Positive Values
    Caring—young person places high value on helping other people.
    Equality and Social Justice—young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
    Integrity—young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
    Honesty—young person "tells the truth even when its not easy."
    Responsibility—young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
    Restraint—young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

    Social Competencies
    Planning and Decision Making—young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
    Interpersonal Competence—young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
    Cultural Competence—young person has knowledge or and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
    Resistance Skills—young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
    Peaceful Conflict Resolution—young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.

    Positive Identity
    Personal Power—young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me."
    Self-Esteem—young person reports having a high self-esteem.
    Sense of Purpose—young person reports that "my life has a purpose."
    Positive View of Personal Future—young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.
  4. Although these goals are numbered, they are considered to be equally important.
  5. For example, scouting organizations, youth retreat movements, and organizations specifically serving at-risk youth.
  6. These assets were developed from research by the Search Institute in Minneapolis and from Challenge of Adolescent Catechesis (NFCYM, 1986). These assets are intended as a guide, not as an evaluative tool.
  7. Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, adapted the phrase "It Takes a Whole Church" from the Ghanian proverb "It takes a village to raise a child."
  8. There is a variety of schemas for identifying the ministries of the Church. This document continues with the framework articulated in A Vision of Youth Ministry. While the names of the ministries may vary, the eight proposed in this paper reflect what the Church considers the basic pastoral work in a parish community as expressed  in The Code of Canon Law (cf. Canons 528- 529):
    • ensuring that the word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the parish
    • instruction in the truths of faith, especially by means of the homily and by catechetical formation
    • works that promote the spirit of the Gospel, including its relevance to social justice
    • Catholic education of children and youth
    • bringing the gospel message to those who have given up religious practice or who do not profess the true faith (outreach to inactive Catholics)
    • promotion of eucharist as the center of the parish assembly
    • celebration of the sacraments, especially eucharist and penance (including programs of sacramental life and preparation)
    • nourishment of the prayer life of parishioners, especially within families
    • active participation of parishioners in the liturgy
    • methods of acquaintance with parishioners, the welcoming of newcomers, home visiting, efforts at building community
    • care for the sick and especially the dying
    • concern and care for the poor, the suffering, the lonely, those who are exiled from their homeland, and those burdened with special difficulties
    • foster the growth of Christian life in the family
    • recognize and promote the specific role that the lay members of the parish have in the mission of the Church
    • foster in parishioners concern and works that promote the community of the parish and that help them feel themselves to be members of the diocese and the universal Church.
  9. The order of the components is alphabetical. No prioritizing of the eight components is intended by this order.
  10. This list contains some of the faith themes found in The Challenge of  Adolescent Catechesis: Maturing in Faith (Washington, D.C.: National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 1986).
  11. These elements are drawn from The Challenge of Catholic Youth Evangelization: Called to Be Witnesses and Storytellers (Washington, D.C.: National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 1993).
  12. This four-stage process is know as the Pastoral Circle and developed from the work of Peter Henriot and Joseph Holland.
  13. The principles for worship and liturgy include many of the ideas found in the final draft of From Age to Age: The Challenge of Worship with Adolescents (Washington, D.C.: National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 1997).

In September 1976, the United States Catholic Conference's Department of Education issued A Vision of Youth Ministry with young people by blending the best of past efforts with emerging ideas from leaders across the country.  Two decades later, the Church's ministry with adolescents is confronted by new challenges and opportunities.  Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry is a blueprint for the continued development of effective ministry with young and older adolescents.  After wide consultation with dioceses, national organizations, and youth ministers throughout the country, the Committee on the Laity submitted the final draft to the plenary assembly of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.  The document was approved on June 20, 1997 and is hereby authorized for publication by the undersigned.

Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr, General Secretary, NCCB/USCC

First printing, August 1997
Fourth printing: October 2000

Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America copyright ©  1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc. - Libreria Editrice Vaticana are used with permission.

Scriptural excerpts from The New American Bible used with permission of the copyright holder, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, copyright © 1970, 1986, 1991.  All rights reserved.

Excerpts from The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, SJ, General Editor, copyright ©  1966, America Press.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., Washington, D.C.  All rights reserved.  No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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