Friday, June 09, 2006


Mrs. Curley & I teach CCD to the high schoolers at our parish. The curriculum is threefold: Baltimore Catechism, Scripture, and How to pray (this encompasses different types of prayer, plan of life, etc.). While we have gone on a few outings and done other activities, these never take up class time. Our outings are usually charitable in nature (sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, pro-life march, etc.) or eductational, like the trip to the Cathedral. Virtually every outing we have had, we say the rosary on the road.

Our approach to young adults is very simple. We don't go for gimmicks, special liturgies, rah, rah, etc. I believe that you give these young adults the truth, unvarnished, with all the difficulties and all the joy. You discuss things honestly: present the challenges, sufferings, and the rewards. They have free will and will decide to accept or reject Christ on their own. If you try to trick them into coming to CCD with gimmicks etc., they may come for a while, but the livelong relationship with Christ will be considered "kid's stuff". It won't stick. They will remember the gimmicks and not the doctrine or the love which was giving a tiny hearing amidst the hoopla.

No doubt about it, we think we have lost kids from the class because we didn't try to entertain.

Thus it is with great joy I read (hat tip to both Musings from a Catholic Bookstore and the 7 June post from Mike Aquilina's blog. Here's a piece, but read the whole thing:

The Church Fathers had a distinctive approach to youth ministry.

Now, don’t jump to conclusions. I haven’t uncovered any evidence that St. Ambrose led teens on ski trips in the nearby Alps. Nor is there anything to suggest that St. Basil sponsored junior-high dances in Pontus. (There’s not even a hint of a pizza party.) In fact, if you check all the documentary evidence from all the ancient patriarchates of the East and the West, you won’t find a single bulletin announcement for a single parish youth group.

Yet the Fathers had enormous success in youth and young-adult ministry. Many of the early martyrs were teens, as were many of the Christians who took to the desert for the solitary life. There’s ample evidence that a disproportionate number of conversions, too, came from the young and youngish age groups.

How did the Fathers do it?

They made wild promises.

They promised young people great things, like persecution, lower social status, public ridicule, severely limited employment opportunities, frequent fasting, a high risk of jail and torture, and maybe, just maybe, an early, violent death at the hands of their pagan rulers.

The Fathers looked young people in the eye and called them to live purely in the midst of a pornographic culture. They looked at some young men and women and boldly told them they had a calling to virginity. And it worked. Even the pagans noticed how well it worked.


Stella said...

One of the youth retreats I went on gave me something to think about ever since. The Jesuit priest who lead the retreat opened with this statement about the youth, "Ask them for a little bit and they will give you nothing. Ask them for a ton and they will give you a little bit. But ask them for everything they have and they will surpass your wildest expectations. This is what Christ asks of you. Everything, everyday, for the rest of your life."
Talk about meat!

Heather said...

I am 33 now, but still remember with great fondness my freshman year TLC (Teens Living Christ) leaders. They were a married couple from our parish and we met in their house. They never fed us gimmicks, but instead listened and taught us and took us seriously. They were a lot of fun, too, but I was struck by their sincerity of their love for Christ, and for their service and sincerity to us. I sent them Christmas cards for years, invited them to my wedding, and seek them out at mass when I'm visiting my parents.

I think you are doing the right thing. You will influence some of those kids. I know I am still influenced by their love and compassion.

Love the blog by the way. I have discussed some of your entries at my women's Bible study. Keep up the great work!