“If youth can lead one another to sin, why not to sanctity?” So wondered St. John Bosco as he undertook his life’s work with poor boys in Turin in the 1850s. And youth ministers have asked themselves the same question ever since.
In the last issue of The Sower Jose Varickasseril highlighted Paul’s methods for catechesis. Here is a practical application of his lessons in the area of youth evangelization and catechesis. Reprinted here with permission from Celia Siriois.
Peer ministry is built on the premise that young people can indeed influence one another to the good, that they can be light and leaven in the world in which they find themselves. In many ways peer ministry is the goal toward which all youth ministry tends. It takes with radical seriousness the words of the prophet Joel echoed by Peter in his first sermon: “’And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams’” (Acts 2:17; cf. Joel 2:28). Peter announces the good news that the saving work of Jesus has inaugurated the last days. The Spirit has been poured out on all God’s people without distinction. Now young and old alike are sent to bear witness to the gospel.
Peer ministry seeks to awaken the baptismal imagination of the young, to make them mindful of the gift and call of their Baptism. It encourages them to begin even now to participate actively and responsibly in the work of evangelization. In many ways it is a school, educating the hearts, minds and wills of young people, equipping them to make an intelligent and imaginative contribution to the Church and the world.