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Youth ministry: reasons to say thanks

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Sept. 9, 2015

As we welcome a new school and parish program year, it is fitting to take this opportunity to thank all those who support youth ministry in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. 

We begin with our parents who live out the faith in the daily joys and challenges of family life.  Parental support of parish formation and youth ministry is an important ingredient in strengthening their children’s personal relationship with Christ and formation in the Catholic faith.

Today, unfortunately, many parishes are seeing significant decreases in the number of students attending parish faith formation classes.  In some instances, parents choose either class or Mass for their children, but not both.

In a society where it has become increasingly difficult to practice our faith, our parents are charged with an awesome responsibility to actively foster the growth of their children’s faith as they nurture their own. 
Thank you, parents, for your persevering faith and love of the Church.

In my parish visits, I see families at Mass praying together and often our youth serving as greeters, ushers, altar servers and readers.  Some of our parishes enjoy the talents of their gifted youth as vocalists and instrumentalists in their music ministry. 

When parishes host special receptions, many of the youth are there to lend a helping hand.  Some of our youth assist with the children’s Liturgy of the Word during Mass. 

In some parishes, the newly Confirmed students make public commitments to continue participation in community service projects.

Thank you for your continued ministry!

How can we better encourage our youth to become more engaged in the faith life of our parishes when so many of their plates are already heaping full?

Should we ask them to squeeze one more thing into their calendars?

Through our Envisioning Process, the Diocese of Ogdensburg has set a goal to: Establish Youth Ministry, in accordance with diocesan standards, in 25-30 parishes with competent, qualified leaders (youth & adult) by June 30, 2015. 

Later this fall, a Youth Minister’s Training Weekend will take place at Wadhams Hall.  This important weekend will include the training of competent and qualified leaders for youth ministry in our parishes.  We are so grateful to all who are committed to serving in this crucial role. Thank you, youth ministers!

I, also, want to express a special word of gratitude to Deacon Brian Dwyer who has tirelessly led our diocesan efforts in youth ministry since 2010. 

During that time, he has overseen such areas as Guggenheim summer camp, the annual Youth Rally, and high school leadership weekends.  Deacon Brian has worked with our pastors, offering assistance to the parishes as they enhance their youth ministry. 

We are all indebted to Deacon Brian for his energetic leadership and strong commitment to serve our youth.  Thank you, Deacon Brian, for a job well done!

While every parish has unique needs with differing resources available to support youth ministry, we know that youth ministry cannot be just another option for any viable and vibrant parish today.

We are so blessed with the fine work of Father Chris Carrara’s committee in helping us meet this goal of establishing youth ministry in over thirty-five of our parishes thus far!  Thank you, Father Chris, committee members and pastors!

As you see, we have much for which to be thankful when it comes to youth ministry in the North Country. I’m confident that our continuing efforts and the prayerful support of everyone will see us reap much fruit in the Lord’s vineyard.

Bishop LaValley

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