This week’s edition of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership’s newsletter included our reflections on young adult ministry. Check it out below and let us know what you think!
Several years ago, we listened to a group of Vatican II Catholics wonder where young adults go after college–why aren’t they in the pews on Sundays? We were in our late 20s and didn’t quite know how to explain that Catholic parish pews are not always quite as welcoming as they could be; that young women in their 20s and 30s need special care in being welcomed into Catholic life. Since then, we have worked with a group of young women to create From the Pews in the Back: Young Women & Catholicism (Liturgical Press, 2009). This collection of essays sheds light on how young women are negotiating Catholic identity and offers insights to Catholic ministers interested in reaching out to this population.
Hoping to inspire Catholic ministry that meets young women where we are, we offer this brief, top five list of tips for ministers.
(5) Do service & justice work. One of the hallmarks of our generation is passion for service and justice–many have spent years in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or Americorps or other volunteer programs. Create opportunities that continue this kind of work, in Catholic communities.
(4) Be open-minded. Welcome alternative lifestyles and women from all sorts of different backgrounds. Many young women feel alienated by the Church’s conversation about homosexuality and sexuality–simply say, “Welcome!” and show that you mean it.
(3) Be interfaith. Young women have grown up in an interfaith world–their daily lives intersect with Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims. Encourage interfaith conversation and incorporate it into your ministry.
(2) Encourage small communities. Many young women in our collection write about the value of connecting with other young women. Providing that forum extends the invitation.
(1) Involve young women in leadership. Let these young adults self-define. Many young women have a sense of the kind of spiritual engagement and religious practices they are searching for–give them the space to find it.
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