Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high
school curriculum in:
Christian lifestylesparish ministries;
Christian leadership; directives of Vatican II
Social studiesgenerational issues and
Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom,
Parish sacramental preparation programs and
CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion
groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also find this material useful
in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home
study, at family activities.
Basic Terms in This Months Article
for the key words and terms below as you read the article.
Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article
itself or from the resource materials cited throughout the
Links for Learners. You can also find a list of terms on the
glossary page of AmericanCatholicYouth.org.
Young adult ministry
Experience of community
Small faith groups
Look Forward From Your High School Years
As a teenager your concerns center on friends, family, school,
sports, music. College is still in the future, and young adulthood
just a distant dream. This month's article, however, challenges
you to think ahead for a few moments. We'll take a look at
the needs of young adults and the Church's response, its ministry
to young adults. Included in the discussion will be what
kind of leaders the Church needs to serve young Christian
adults. This will offer you insight into what you are doing
to shape your own life. What you do now, how you live your
teen years, will set the tone for your life as a young adult.
Politician and former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill observed
that all politics is local. Despite the regional and national
scope of American government, for example, individuals are
active in politics at the local level: school boards, city
councils, town planning committees. Life in the Catholic Church
is no different. The vast worldwide organization of the Roman
Catholic Church consists of a network of Christian families
forming faith groups in parishes, schools and dioceses.
Forming Christian community at the local level is exactly
what the Church is about. The Second Vatican Council, in its
on the Mission Activity of the Church, says, "Let families
flourish which are imbued with the spirit of the Gospel and
let them be assisted by good schools; let associations and
groups be organized by means of which the lay apostolate will
be able to permeate the whole of society with the spirit of
Now in your high school years, after being centered as a
child on the local parish and school, you begin to move from
the parish and experience Christian life in other settings.
You may stay rooted in your parish for Confirmation programs
and weekly liturgy, but in high school you also participate
in retreats, service programs, classroom faith discussions
and school liturgies.
This transition beyond parish roots continues through the
college years. By the time an individual reaches his mid-20s,
affiliation with the parish of origin is often just a thing
of the past, and unfortunately, so is affiliation with the
Young adults are very much in transition. They move out from
home or college to begin jobs and careers. They may relocate
to an unfamiliar city, find new roommates, take on a car loan.
They must work to pay rent, buy food, afford entertainment,
and pay off college loans. Some will experience disappointment
when their four years of college education do not translate
to a related job and career. Others will feel pressure to
find a life partner.
The Church listens to the needs of young adults. At the national
level, the American bishops developed a pastoral
plan for young adults, titled Sons
and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with
At the local level, numerous dioceses sponsor young adult
York and Providence,
for example. The Atlanta
program includes volunteer service in the Mustard
Seed Communities in Kingston, Jamaica.
Chicago's program has a 20-year history. Its Theology
on Tap summer series draws hundreds of participants annually,
culminating with a liturgy and picnic with Cardinal Francis
All these ministries are the Church's response to young adults'
need for spiritual awareness. This month's author says there
is "…a need or hunger to find good people in life." We live
in an anonymous culture, with disconnectedness a common, perhaps
prevalent, experience. Catholic bishops worldwide agree, "…man
painstakingly searches for a better world, without a corresponding
spiritual advancement." (See Vatican II's Pastoral
Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Introduction,
section 4.) Individuals are looking for an experience of community.
Building Christian Community
Christian community doesn't just happen. Parishes work hard
to create and sustain programs. Look at St.
Clement in Chicago. As a sponsoring parish for the diocesan
Theology on Tap program, St. Clement's attracts hundreds of
young adults for regular talks and discussions. Some have
chosen to join the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)
process and be initiated into the Catholic faith.
The mission statement for St. Clement includes this conviction:
"We are a welcoming community called to embrace and respect
our diversity of age, gender, lifestyle, livelihood, race,
ethnicity and religious traditions as we join together in
our faith and worship while sharing our talents, spirit and
resources in the service of God."
In Old St. Pat's,
another Chicago parish concerned with young adults, parishioners
and clergy developed a mission statement to articulate their
purpose. One of their goals states, "Choose to celebrate the
goodness of life by continually creating an experience of
hospitality, friendship, prayer and service that responds
to human needs." What a beautiful statement of their reason
Both of these parishes demonstrate renewal guidelines articulated
by Kevin Sandberg, a community coordinator at St. Clement
- Know names and faces; relationships are key
- Make programs pastorally based
- Make programs team-centered, with trained leaders
- Offer a variety of activities
- Lead people spiritually
Think about what kind of personal traits you will need if
you were to bring Christian renewal to life. Do you now know
names and faces outside your circle of friends? Do you now
work hard to build and maintain healthy relationships? Can
you function effectively now in a team-centered situation?
Are you capable now of being a spiritual leader, a force for
good in your family, with your friends, in class discussions?
Do you now volunteer to be a minister in school or parish
Your answer to these questions may be, "No." More likely,
it's "Sometimes." No doubt there's room for growth. But that's
what being a teen is all aboutgrowth. So where do you
go from here? How do you prepare to be an effective Christian
"Good church is built on listening to people," says Father
John Cusick at Old St. Pat's in Chicago. Dialogue between
the Church's clerical leadership and its members is crucial
to a healthy Church. You can ensure your own growth by making
efforts to voice your concerns and needs. Talk to friends.
Speak with your teachers and counselors. Go to your parish
council. Talk to older siblings who are in college or just
starting their young adult years.
"The Church has not been really founded, and is not yet fully
alive, nor is it a perfect sign of Christ among men, unless
there is a laity worthy of the name working along with the
hierarchy. For the gospel cannot be deeply grounded in the
abilities, life and work of any people without the active
presence of laymen." Decree
on the Mission Activity of the Church, chapter 3, section
When you become a young adult, wouldn't it be great if others
could describe you as someone who chooses to celebrate the
goodness of life by continually creating an experience of
hospitality, friendship, prayer and service in response to