“Command and teach these things. Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Timothy 4: 11–13, 15–16)
How do we accompany young people so that they understand and have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
How do we accompany adolescents and young adults so that they can come to know, love and serve God?
How do we accompany our young people so that they understand that from the day they are baptized, they have been called to be missionary disciples?
How do we support their processes of growth, personal maturity, and faith?
The Bible passage above is from the fourth chapter of the first letter of Saint Paul to Timothy, and is addressed through Timothy to people who are already in leadership roles within the Church in some way, to help them find answers to new realities and challenges. This quote is a guide for all young disciples, and for anyone who has the opportunity to accompany the processes of other young people.
In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis echoes the Church's fears for young people, and tells us that the youth ministry as we know it has suffered from the onslaught of social changes. He also says that we adults find it difficult to listen patiently to young people, to understand their worries and their complaints, and to talk to them in a language that they understand. He tells us that this is why educational proposals do not produce the expected results. (EG #105) On the other hand, being Catholic in the 21st Century, particularly in the United States, means being part of one of the most fascinating experiences of cultural diversity, says Dr. Ospino in his guide on faith formation.
Our Church is very much aware of these challenges and of this diversity of realities and cultures in which we live in the United States, and the V Encuentro is a process which has helped us to find and confirm our priorities for ministry with Latinos. Priorities which “urgently need attention,” and require putting into practice “right away,” in order to plant the seeds of change, especially among young people.
My webinar, The V Encuentro and Latino Youth and Young Adult Ministry and Catechesis: What is next? continues the efforts of the V Encuentro and gives us the opportunity to present its priorities and analyze them based on our pastoral experience and on some of the principles and visions of youth ministry and catechesis.
In my webinar I also discuss incorporating elements from some of the efforts the Church has made to respond to young people, for example the World Youth Day celebration in Panama, the Synod on Young People, the faith and vocational discernment on a global level, and also the National Dialogue on Youth and the Hispanic Youth Project on a national level.
We know that the discipleship process begins as a personal experience with Jesus which allows us to understand and say that yes, Jesus is our Lord and Savior. It then unites us in the ecclesiastic community with others who have had the same experience, so that we can work together on our mission. The youth ministry supports and highlights the importance of young people pastorally, and catechesis offers processes for learning and strengthening faith and the new evangelism. It is an invitation to spread the good news of Jesus with new enthusiasm, new methods and new expression.
Let's take this opportunity to meet up cybernetically, this opportunity to listen, reflect and intentionally bring the joy of Christ, who is an eternal novelty, into the lives of young people.
Any authentic evangelizing action will always be new.
I invite you to watch my recorded webinar and take the opportunity to listen, reflect and intentionally bring the joy of Christ, who is an eternal novelty, into the lives of young people. Together we can renew the vitality of being his disciples, so that we can offer young people a Christ who is always young, a constant fountain of youth. Pope Francis tells us that the Christian proposal never ages. Whenever we try to return to the source and recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new paths and creative methods appear, other forms of expression, more powerful signs, words charged with renewed significance for the modern world. (EG #11)
The Fifth Encuentro helps us to made clear the priorities of the Latino ministry in the Church of the United States. Leadership formation, evangelization and mission, family life, Pastoral Juvenil, immigration, intercultural competencies, leadership development, ministry formation and vocational discernment are among of the more urgent pastoral needs.
Don’t miss Walter Mena's August 15th presentation and conversation! Watch the Spanish webinar recording now.
Walter Francisco Mena, from El Salvador, is the staff director and lead organizer at Merrimack Valley Project in Massachusetts. He also is a pastoral and leadership formation consultant for dioceses, parishes, and nonprofits organizations in the United States and Latin America. He has more than 30 years of experience as a lay minister in the Church. For 18 of those years, he has been ministering to the Latino Youth and Young Adult ministry (Pastoral Juvenil). Currently, he is one of the advisers to the Board of Directors of The Catholic Network of Pastoral Juvenil Hispana: LA RED. He is also a member of the pastoral team for Instituto Fe y Vida. Walter Francisco has a Masters in Pastoral Theology from the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) at Boston College.