On Thursday, April 16, we had another pastoral council meeting. The following is a summary:
-We looked briefly at the brand-new website for the parish, exploring the various links and pulldown menus. The newest news from our Facebook page is posted, my newest couple of Tweets, an embedded calendar so people can see what is planned even many months in advance, a constant loop on the home page of the next upcoming 15 events in the parish, a couple of the newest Catholic news items, links to the USCCB website, a school page, a Knights of Columbus page, a staff page, various sacraments pages, the biblical readings for the day, etc. We hope that the new website truly serves the parish. We can continue to develop it some as we get input and new ideas.
-The new confessionals at Paulding and Antwerp are being used. I am hearing confessions before Masses at Paulding and Antwerp, which was not happening before the confessionals went in. This will be very good for the spiritual health of our parish.
-The new phone app is also up and running. We hope it will be one more way to keep in close touch with all of our parishioners. The “Mass Times” function will shut off the phone sounds during those Mass times that you program in.
-The installation of the new air-conditioning system at Paulding is going very smoothly so far.
-Most of the time was spent talking about my recommendation that we try the “ydisciple” high school youth program out of Denver Colorado, designed by the Augustine Institute (cf. www.ydisciple.org). We looked at the website together, which provides many sample materials and videos. The more I think about the needs of our parish, the more I believe this could be our answer for a vibrant youth program. The program assumes that small men’s and women’s groups are the best way to “disciple” our young people. I am hearing from various sources that even parishes that use great programs such as LifeTeen are coming to realize that they still need some type of small-group discipling experience. My own experience of going to college, always as a member of a small men’s faith group, confirms the usefulness of being in a discipleship group.
The ydisciple program provides top-notch, doctrinally solid, engaging talks, presented by some of the most prominent youth workers in the country. The program provides a full four-year series of themes. The many themes include: Follow Me, Who is God?, Who Am I?, Advent, The Church, True Beauty: Womanhood, True Beauty: Manhood, True Strength: Chastity, True Beauty: Chastity, Disciplines of a Disciple, Human Sexuality, Pro-Life, Hot Topics, Prayer, Modern Media.
A men’s group or women’s group could meet each week for an hour and a half, following the outline of the program provided for that particular theme, even a particular session of the theme series. Each small group of about 5-8 men or women would be led by one or two (young) adults, preferably not an adult who has a child in that same small group. But parents would definitely host the small group in their home, providing awesome food and a place for fellowship before the group leader(s) and youth get down to business watching some video segments and engaging in discussion. I very much like the fact that the program would be “parent driven”, i.e., parents would help me find group leaders and encourage them for this mission. Parents would make sure the group happens each week.
I am encouraged by how the flexibility of the program could make it fit our three-campus scenario. Sometimes people say they are not able to make it to other campuses in a timely manner for our current programs. Timewise, the flexibility could help us: For some people, Wednesday night youth stuff does not work. For others, Sunday afternoon or morning does not work. We could have a couple men’s and women’s groups operating at each campus at various times, according to the mutual convenience of each group.
I would train the group leaders by going through the first five weeks of a session with them, using the very materials that they will be using for the first five weeks of their own leading of a group. There are also extra training sessions we would use: i.e., Understanding Teenagers, The Art of Small Group Facilitation, How to Launch a Small Group, Discipleship with Teens, The Power of Partnering with Parents.
The CRE and I would make ourselves available to handle doctrinal and other questions as they arise.
The program includes materials that parents would read for each session, so they can accompany the whole process and follow up with their teens.
The parish would subscribe to the program, and the CRE would administrate it. Each group of parents/ group leader(s)/youth registering at the office would get necessary passwords to access the materials to make the group happen.
I can imagine small groups meeting for three weeks of the month, and then a high school core youth team of parents/young adults/high school students meeting with me to plan one overall parish high school activity per month: an evening of adoration, a high school “theology on tap”, a service project, an enjoyable fellowship evening, etc.
Open questions: how much wood groups meet in the summer? Parish-wide activities in the summer?
On Sunday, May 3, at 1 PM in the afternoon, in the Paulding Education Center, I would like to have a parish meeting of all people interested in improving our high school youth ministry. You remember that I told you that high school ministry was the number one commented-upon item in the parish survey that was done before I arrived. I would like parents of all high school students at the meeting, a number of potential group leaders, including young adult men and women of the parish. It would be awesome if some of our young male and female coaches were willing to lead a men’s or women’s group. Of course, it would be great to have a bunch of high school youth at this meeting as well. My plan for the meeting is to put the ydisciple website up on the screen, and to explore the program, just as I did for the parish council to give them a glimpse of the program. I will also have handouts, samples of the parent sheets, the teen sheets, and the extensive guide for the group discussion leader. My hope is that there would be enough consensus to try the Ydisciple program for the next couple of years. Then we can do some recruiting and training of group leaders throughout the summer, in preparation for the fall. Please consider attending this meeting. I would love to have many people there.
Please keep the whole high school youth endeavor in your prayers, asking for God’s wisdom and guidance for all of us.
So there is a summary of the pastoral council meeting. Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,