By: Kevin Bohli, Director of the Office of Youth Ministry
One of the most challenging parts of being a Coordinator of Youth Ministry (CYM) in a parish is finding creative methods of teaching the Faith to teenagers. Attendance at youth ministry programs is rarely mandatory for teens, so the format must be creative and engaging while still able to convey the many important aspects of our faith. In addition, it can be difficult to cover all of the required material over the four-year period that teens participate in a high-school youth ministry program.
The Office of Youth Ministry (OYM) has always encouraged CYMs to use the Secondary Religion Guidelines created by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington as a basis for catechesis. However, in January 2010, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published a new document called the Adaptation of Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age (now that’s a mouthful!). Inspired by the U.S. bishops, the OYM wanted to help CYMs to incorporate these doctrinal elements into their youth ministry gatherings. This new four-year, 80-session high school youth ministry curriculum is titled Journey to Emmaus.
The goal of the new curriculum is to put some “flesh” onto the USCCB curriculum framework and create practical and creative sessions to help CYMs in their ministry to teenagers. The curriculum is written by members of the OYM, youth workers from within and outside the Diocese of Arlington and other prominent national catechists. The weekly sessions contain references to the Secondary Religion Guidelines, Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Church documents; games and ice breakers; opening and closing prayers; a catechetical talk; and related media suggestions such as music, movies and websites.
While there are national publishers also attempting to respond to the new catechetical framework, what makes the OYM curriculum unique is that so many of the ideas come from local CYMs who have time-tested and well-planned programs in place already. Additionally, the curriculum will tie in each year to the OYM’s annual theme; the theme of 2010-2011 is “Built on Christ,” inspired by Colossians 2:7.
The first semester materials have already been distributed to all of the parishes in the diocese and the spring semester’s will be released shortly. It is the hope of the OYM that this new catechetical resource will provide a jump-start to many CYMs in planning their youth meetings and inspire them even more in their efforts to teach the faith to the young people of the diocese.