Evangelization Exchange December 2016 – Edens

Young Adult Evangelization & Ministry

By Fr. Bill Edens, CSP

Michal H. is the Archdiocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult ministry. Whatever he invited me to do, I immediately agreed to. He is a wonderfully inspired and organized leader. He is a great role model for me. He selects his team members carefully. He is loyal to them and it is reciprocated. If he chooses you to be part of a team for some youth ministry event consider yourself blessed!

He invited me to be on the planning team and serve as chaplain on the Young Adult Retreat of the archdiocese, two years in a row. I learned a lot about how to talk to young adults and help them grow in their faith. There would always be the evening where we did the “Just Dance” computer game competition. The young adults really get into this, and can go for hours. They are so excited when we adult leaders join in the dance.

The other important element is to love Jesus and to unabashedly show that side of yourself. Young people want to be challenged to live a courageous life of faith. They love having role models.

It was important for me to do some work with teens because they are the future young adults. I needed to know where young adults come from. Michal H. invited me to be part of the planning team and be the chaplain for the Catholic Leadership Institute last summer, which trains teens for leadership in their parish.

In addition to Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese I also presided at mass at several of the Catholic high schools. Catholic high school students see their school as their Catholic parish. They say to their parents “Why should I go to church on Sunday? I already went to church at my high school on Friday!”

I joined alumni activities at the Catholic high schools and began asking questions about church involvement after high school graduation. I estimate that there are over 1000 graduating seniors from Catholic High Schools in the Portland area each year. Many go away to college and then come back to Portland. I did not see much evidence that these Catholic school grads get involved in a local parish.

I always agreed to hear confessions for any youth ministry event that I was invited to. It got me known and respected by the youth and young adult community in the archdiocese.

The other benefit of doing teenage ministry is that I learned a lot about the Youth Ministers that are hired by parishes. These young adults must provide spiritual nourishment for middle school students, high school students, and confirmation classes. They must recruit and train adult volunteers and provide spiritual inspiration for them. But, they often feel that they are not receiving enough spiritual food themselves. What could I do to help them? Though I never was able to bring it about, I felt that with our Paulist Charism we could create online spiritual nourishment for these very busy ministers. By doing it as an online retreat for busy people we could touch the near and far reaches of the archdiocese.


To read the previous essays in this series, click below: