By Fr. Hien Nguyen
3. Vocation Culture in the Diocesan Community
3.1 The Young
One important aspect of faith development that we noticed is an increased desire to serve in leadership positions. This is one area where the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry (OYYAM) excels in: giving young people the opportunity to lead their peers and those younger than them. Spirit Day and Searching in the Spirit are two prime examples: the younger students see vibrant and passionate people who are only a few years older than them still involved in the Church. It’s really inspiring when we interviewed candidates for our student leadership teams and found out that they were participants at Spirit Day and/or Searching in the Spirit four or five years ago. This is a good example of young people being impacted at an early age and wanting to give back at this adolescent period.
Another key point is that teens are looking for experiences rather than entertainment. We have such a richness of tradition, ritual, and truth in the Catholic faith that many young people are attracted to (as opposed to afraid or intimidated by them). Thus, Eucharistic adoration is still strong in the Archdiocese. Many teenagers and young adults still have the desire to gather together to worship God through Holy Hour.
There has also been a stronger emphasis on Vocations in the past ten years. With the five priest ordinations a few years ago to the three last year and then Deacon Bryan Duggan next week, the younger/newer priests are quite visible and serve as inspirations to the youth. They have done a wonderful job of connecting with young people. Even in different parishes, priests meet regularly with a handful of young men every week or two with an emphasis on vocations.
Most of all, the youth are looking to be loved and accepted, and to be encouraged and affirmed for coming to Church! The stronger ones then take what they’ve received and give back to their parishes and the Archdiocese.
Going forward, the young people will need a few support mechanisms to continue to love the Church and our Lord:
- encouragement and examples from parents
- support from the parish as they grow in their faith
- an invitation and challenge to live vibrant and holy lives
- constant encouragement to receive the Sacraments regularly
- a model of Christian community
- involvement of youth in the greater life of the parish (both within and outside of the parish youth ministry)
- Archdiocesan support (training and formation opportunities)
- Additional formation may come in the form of “Theology on Tap” or other programs that bring the “social” element together with the “catechetical” element.