Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 20, 1999
Winnipeg training program benefits archdiocesan youth ministers
Special to the WCR
The parishes of the Edmonton Archdiocese are benefitting from increased opportunities for training for youth ministry professionals and volunteers.
In July, the Western Canadian Association of Catholic Youth Ministers sponsored its annual summer seminar for youth ministers in Winnipeg attracting 15 youth workers from the archdiocese.
One group of three spent six days learning and discussing strategies for developing more effective ministry with youth.
The other 12 took courses on foundations of Christian leadership, skills for Christian ministry and fostering the faith growth of youth through prayer and worship.
The summer seminar is part of a larger course that leads to a certificate in youth ministry studies over three years.
In the first year, participants are introduced to the principles that underlie a successful youth ministry program and learn skills that are needed to develop programs.
Peter Oliver, youth minister at St. Michael's Parish in Leduc, was struck by one of the statistics presented in his course.
"While 81 per cent of youth are willing to express on survey their belief in God, only 18 per cent report that they attend church regularly, even though regularly is defined as only 'at least once a month,'" he said. "It's the 18-81 gap."
Add to that the other demands on the time and attention of youth - school, jobs, sports and family - and it is clear youth ministry needs to reach beyond those young people in the pews to where youth are spending their time.
Andrew Bartley, summer school instructor, encourages participants in the course to share their own experiences and ideas for extending youth ministry beyond the church building to the school and community.
He believes the same method can be used for youth ministry in parishes if a planning team of parishioners is established to lead youth ministry.
Youth ministers are encouraged to look to their own parishes for ideas by establishing a planning team.
Rick Bobier, a pastoral associate at St. Theresa's Parish in Edmonton, said, "The course is exciting because it has the tools to rejuvenate an entire parish, not just a youth ministry.
"It has the potential to involve people without burning them out."