Youth Ministry: How You Belong in the Church

Often times once you are confirmed in the church, you may struggle with a reason to attend Mass anymore. You feel as though you have learned enough through Religious Education, and that attending Mass will not provide any real benefit to your life. That is simply not true. As we mature, our minds widen. That is why it is important to attend Mass and allow our minds to develop with Catholic teachings. Youth Ministry (YM) allows us to do so.

This week we spoke to Matt Kirsch from St. Eleanor’s Parish in Collegeville, PA. He is currently in charge of their YM, and is making great strides with it. With his passion and degree in theology, he is the perfect person for the role. With fun events, volunteering opportunities and finding a way to incorporate works of mercy, it’s no wonder more and more teens are signing up!

The great part about YM at St. Eleanor’s and many other parishes is that it is open to all. The only requirement they have is that you are living and breathing, and be in grades 7-12. If you are not Catholic, that’s fine. If you are not a parishioner with that parish, that is also fine. All they ask is that you see what they are about.

As you can see YM is much more than just fun events; they are also about volunteering. Since many schools have mandatory volunteer hours in order to go from grade to grade, and YM wants to focus on Mercy Service Projects, this is a great opportunity to try a different kind of volunteering. With the Corporal Works of Mercy you often focus on visiting the sick, the homeless, those in shelters, and praying for the living and the deceased. These are some great ways to help the community!

Since many soup kitchens and shelters do not allow minors or large groups, St. Eleanor’s YM program has found a way around it in order to still help and volunteer. Instead they gather together once a month on parish grounds and have different drives. Some may be a food drive, school supply drive, travel size toiletries drive, clothing drive and so much more. This way they can make an impact in their community, but are not working directly in the shelters.

Parish Giving plays a good sized role in St. Eleanor’s YM. Our online forms allow them to keep track of their roster, create events and register their teens for the program each year. For those who show up for events unannounced, parents can be given the web address for the form, and can fill it out and submit it instantaneously. And as with many YM groups, they do not charge a flat fee, but instead ask for donations for the program. All of this can be done through Parish Giving!

YM is certainly coming into its own. With the economy doing well, the church is able to offer more activities for the next generation. Through parishioner support and those in the community, we can help make YM happen in more churches. If your parish does not have a group, see if another local parish does, and if not try to create your own. It can make a huge difference in lots of people’s lives.