There are four notable communities that help youth grow in faith. They are the Family Community, the Parish Community, the Catholic School Community, and the Youth-Serving Organizational Community. When youth are drawn to these communities, they better understand what it means to live in a faith community.
The family is the "first community and the most basic way in which the Lord gathers us, forms us, and acts in the world" (Follow the Way of Love, p.8). The family is responsible for the spiritual, moral, and overall development of adolescents by faith sharing in the home. This requires parents to love and support their children, but it also challenges adolescents to "enhance family live with their love and faith" and to bring new understandings and skills into the home that will enrich family life (Renewing the Vision). Every family member plays a role in building a community where love can dwell.
It is important for youth to engage the Parish community because parishes "are the place where God's people meet Jesus in word and sacrament" in a concrete way (Renewing the Vision). Youth-friendly parishes do three things to foster adolescent spiritual growth. First, parishes should allow youth to serve the parish along with adults. When adolescents feel welcomed into the parish community as full-fledged members, they are more likely to identify as a community member. Second, parishes must allow youthful energy and vision in parish activities. Young people have a great deal to offer parish ministry, and when they can express their faith through meaningful roles, they develop a spirit of commitment to the parish community. Finally, if parishes truly desire to become "youth-friendly", it is crucial to value adolescents. This means listening to them and responding to their needs, as well as providing them with facilities and money to enable their growth as disciples. If the parish wants youth to commit to parish life, the parish must commit to the development of the youth.
"In partnership with parents and parishes, Catholic schools prepare young people to become full and active members of the Catholic Church."
-Renewing the VisionCatholic School Community
The Catholic School is a living faith community where adolescents can deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith both inside and outside of the classroom. Campus ministry should demonstrate effective ministerial strategies to youth including effective religious education, service projects, retreats, and other activities. Catholic education and campus ministry must strengthen and empower youth to use their gifts and talents in the wider Church community.
Youth-Serving Organizational Community
It is important for youth to go beyond their family, parish, and school communities to serve the greater Church community. Catholic service leaders have a duty to reach out to young people in order to form them as young disciples who can bear witness to the gospel message. Service organizations are communities where youth can learn about joyful giving while being spiritually challenged to love others as Christ does.