What Is Catholic Youth Ministry?
The Catholic bishops of the United States defined Catholic youth ministry in the 1997 document Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry (RTV). This document, printed in both English and Spanish, provides a structure for the ministry as well as a language, theology, and pastoral approach for responding to the personal and spiritual needs of today's adolescents.
“What is needed today is a church which knows how to respond to the expectations of young people. Jesus wants to enter into dialogue with them and, through his body, which is the church, to propose the possibility of a choice, which will require a commitment of their lives. As Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus, so the church must become the traveling companion of young people...” (Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 1995, Philippines)
The church must become the traveling companion of young people—and that is what we mean by youth ministry. If, indeed, “it takes an entire village to raise a child,” then it certainly takes an entire church to journey with young people as they grapple with the Good News and respond in discipleship.
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in their 1997 document, Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry, identified three goals and eight components which provide direction for this ministry. Youth ministry, at its best, is characterized by the following five hallmarks:
Giftedness and growth
Entire church (parish) involvement