Twenty years ago my parish priest expressed an ardent desire to have a parish youth group. He reserved the newly refurbished parish centre on Friday nights, advertised in the parish bulletin and patiently waited. About 10 years passed until the day when I came to him and suggested we start a parish youth group. My own children were of youth group age and I was concerned about the lack of provision for them to grow in the faith beyond the celebration of Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Delighted, he said yes and that was it—I was left to start up our parish youth ministry. I have to admit that at that time, I had energy and enthusiasm but no actual knowledge of what Catholic youth ministry should be other than what I had experienced, or read about in books about Christian youth work. I had been involved in youth ministry since I was 17 but each and every youth group had been so very different. If you are in England – does this sound familiar? I suspect so. Many of us volunteer or are asked to volunteer but we don’t really know if the Church has anything particular to say about what Catholic youth ministry is. We might read blogs, look at websites, find information which is local to the country or diocese in particular, read the key texts and authors in the field. But what does Holy Mother Church herself say? Does She say anything on the matter? The short answer is: She does.
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