November 15, 2019

Young Church, heed our Holy Father’s call: ‘Make a ruckus!’

CNS Graphic(Editor’s note: “Make a ruckus!” Pope Francis implored young people in his postsynodal apostolic exhortation, “Christus Vivit” or “Christ is Alive!” which was released following the 2018 Synod of Bishops on “young people, the faith and vocational discernment.” Marian University educators Dr. Arthur D. Canales and Mark Erdosy and Ricardo Gonzalez, a teacher at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami, have written a three-part essay based on the exhortation, which is both a letter to young people about their place in the Church and a plea to older adults to offer guidance rather than stifle the enthusiasm of the young. We offer the series as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis prepares to host an estimated 20,000 high school youths, youth ministers, adult chaperones, and youth-serving organizations during the 2019 National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis on Nov. 21-23.

Click to read Part One and Part Two of the series.)

By Dr. Arthur D. Canales, Mark Erdosy and Ricardo Gonzalez (Special to The Criterion)

Part Three: Our tasks as Catholics

The task of integrating “Christus Vivit” is the call of everyone in the Catholic Church who loves young people, but especially those committed to serving young people.

The call from Pope Francis is not “business as usual” in working with young people, but a call to make youth and young adult ministry “more flexible” and inviting (“Christus Vivit,” #204).

For Pope Francis, youth and young adult ministry has to be synodal (#203), meaning, “it should involve ‘journeying together’ that values all the Church’s members, through a process of [collaboration and] co-responsibility” (#206).

This call to reinvigorate and revitalize youth and young adult ministry happened on multiple fronts.

• Bishops and priests: The Holy Father encourages bishops and priests to truly engage young people to become “inspired” (#100) and to avoid “clericalism” (#98).

Priests and bishops are to empower youths to recognize that God loves them, Christ saves them, Jesus is alive, and the Holy Spirit gives them life and purpose. This is done not by being dogmatic, legalistic and moralist, but by humility and simply listening to young people and their concerns (#41, #203).

• Youth ministers and directors of religious education (DREs): Quality youth ministers and competent DREs are already guiding young people in their faith life.

“Christus Vivit” is part of Pope Francis’ larger theological framework on accompaniment, which is a component of Christian discipleship.

Pope Francis expressed the art of accompaniment in a 2103 speech to the bishops of Brazil, and it is further expressed in “Christus Vivit.”

Pope Francis offers these pastoral recommendations in providing pastoral care to young people: journeying, listening, dialoguing, flexibility, proclaiming love and friendships (#204, #206, #212-215).

For example, don’t just have eucharistic adoration on a Sunday evening for youths and call it youth ministry. Albeit spiritually significant, it is not the only aspect of youth ministry. The Holy Father is calling for a better-rounded, robust and flexible programming that meets young people’s cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual needs.

• Parents and parishioners: The adage “it takes an entire village to raise a child” has probably never been more applicable than today.

Parents and a youth minister cannot raise a good Catholic teenager on their own, they need help—lots of it—from their communities, too.

Pope Francis calls on adults in the parishes to become mentors of young people, to give them an apprenticeship in life. The pope calls it the “art of accompaniment” by adults (“Evangelli Gaudium,” #169; “Christus Vivit,” #242-247). Essentially he is asking Catholic parishioners to involve themselves in the ministry of accompaniment with young people, to journey with them in discovering God, learning from them as they learn from you, and together you will share and live a wonderful and beautiful story.

This is the first time a pope has written an apostolic exhortation on youths and young adults. Therefore, it is significant that the Catholic Church get its resources of time, talent and treasure behind youth and young adult ministry.

The time has never been so ripe to help young people on their journey with faith and life.

Therefore, let all adults encourage young people to “Make a Ruckus!” for God!

(Dr. Arthur D. Canales is associate professor of pastoral theology and ministry at Marian University in Indianapolis and an expert on Catholic youth and young adult ministry. Mark Erdosy is the executive director of the San Damiano Scholars Program at Marian University, and a specialist on discernment and vocation. Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez is a theology teacher at Monsignor Edward Pace Catholic High School in Miami who has more than 20 years of Catholic teaching and youth ministry under his belt. All three have been part of the National Dialogue on Youth and Young Adults since its inception in 2017 and were part of the National Dialogue Conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, this past summer.)

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