Over the past few years, the parishes of the Eastern Region of our diocese have collaborated on a number of successful youth events. In response to the call of our Bishop, the Most Rev. Robert Cunningham to find new ways to work together, we have experienced first-hand the joys and successes of looking beyond our traditional parish boundaries. In a time where the church in the North-Eastern United States is experiencing a decline in the ordination of men to the priesthood, it is becoming increasingly necessary to pull our resources together and collaborate. This is the present reality of our church.
The importance of collaboration goes well beyond a need to pull together resources. Collaboration allows teens to encounter others like themselves – people they very likely would not have come into contact with. Ministry goes beyond the walls of our physical churches. Ministry is how we bring others closer to Christ and his mission in an area such as the Greater Utica Region.
So too is it our mission to bring teens closer to that personal encounter with Christ. This encounter happens in the presence of people with real stories. Collaboration allows for youth the opportunity of networking with others. It affords them the reassurance that they need in this day-and-age: that they are not alone; that there are like-minded others.
It is a feeling of belonging that brings about the success of our work. Young people are eagerly searching for a sense of belonging; a place to fit in. In this regard, the mission is one of hospitality. In the charism of Pope Francis, we hope to welcome these young members of our church with open arms as we bring them together for faith and fellowship. St. Pope John Paul II wittingly exclaimed: “Future begins today, not tomorrow.” Youth are not the church of tomorrow; they are the church of today, here, and now. Christ did not leave the apostles alone; he brought them together to do his work. In this spirit, we seek to partner with area catholic Youth as well as their parishes. The Good News Foundation will also play a critical supportive role in these endeavors. More on that support in a future post.