September 3, 2019
Hello Dear Friends!
I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I spent the day walking with my parish’s float in our town’s Labor Day Parade. It got me thinking of the wonderful work all of you do for your own parishes and communities. Ministry could not happen without people like you willing to put in the time and effort to serve our young people. Thank you.
New Updates:
  • THANK YOU! I want to say thank you to each and everyone of you who came out to the various “Meet and Greet” sessions these past two weeks. I really appreciate hearing your various thoughts and needs. All of these comments will help shape future formation opportunities and possible programming. If you were unable to make it to a session, but want to hear what we chatted about, please let me know! I’ll be happy to send you a copy of the agenda and my notes from it.
  • Past Youth Ministry Notes: If you lost or accidentally deleted a past Youth Ministry Notes email, rest at ease. I’ve uploaded them to the blog section at the OYYA website. You can find them here.
  • Follow Us on Social Media: I’ve been looking at different ways to use social media to reach out to the various audiences the OYYA serves. Right now, we have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Facebook has been very helpful getting info out to parents and youth ministers. Twitter has been awesome at giving quick updates from events or trainings. I have been exploring creating an Instagram account for Diocesan Youth Ministry events. I can see Instagram being used to help inspire teens with quotes from Scripture or saints and to share reminders of upcoming events. I’ve created one for Diocesan Young Adult Ministry already (please feel free to give it a follow and share). If you are interested in helping curate social media content for youth ministry, please let me know!
Reminders:
  • Gráste Dé! Focus Group. If you would like to be part of the Gráste Dé! focus group, please let me know by Friday, August 30th. I’ll send out an email the following week to see when would be the best time to meet. You can email me at vhathaway@dcgary.org.
  • Share Your Story: The Diocesan Communications Department would love to share your story! If your ministry or parish is doing an event or you know of a “local young person success story,” please share it with Colleen Rabine, the Director of Communications. Even if it is something that you always do or you don’t think it is “news worthy,” the communications department wants to hear about it. Colleen has stressed to me that she wants the Northwest Indiana Catholic to shine a light on how young Catholics are living out their faith! We can only do that if we know about it! Colleen can be reached at crabine@dcgary.org of you can email me and I would be happy to pass along your good news.
  • NET Retreat: Dates Available! If you are looking for a retreat for your students in December, look no further! NET Ministries will be in NWI early December. Their schedule is still open to hold a retreat December 2 and 12. If you, your parish, or school would be interested in hosting a retreat, please let me know at vhathaway@dcgary.org. You can also go to netusa.org for more information.
  • World Youth Day 2022: Lisbon, Portugal, August 2022. I know. 2022 is a long way away, but that will give us a lot of time to do some planning. If your parish is interested in sending a group to World Youth Day, please let me know. I’m hoping to have an informational meeting next month.
  • Diocesan Council on Young Adult Evangelization: I know this email is for youth ministry leaders, but if your parish has a young adult ministry going (ministry to those in their 20’s and 30’s), is in the process of starting young adult ministry, or has a desire to start young adult ministry, then you are invited to look into the Diocesan Council on Young Adult Evangelization (previously called the Bishop’s Council on Young Adult Evangelization). The DCYAE has three main goals: Serve as an advocate for young adult Catholics, support and provide resources to parish/local young adult ministry efforts, and present opportunities for diocesan events that inspire and nurture the faith of young adult Catholics. If you would like more information, please email me at vhathaway@dcgary.org.
Youth Ministry Events and Formation
  • NWI Awakening 2, October 4-6, Holy Name Catholic Church, Cedar Lake. After a successful first retreat back in April, we are happy to announce NWI Awakening 2 will be happening October 4-6th at Holy Name Catholic Church in Cedar Lake. Young adults 18-25 are invited to a weekend of fun, faith, and and getting to know the Awakening community. Come encounter Christ with follow young adults on what will be an amazing weekend. $30 covers everything and scholarships are available to help with the cost. For more info, check out http://www.garyoyya.org/awakening-retreat/
  • Holy Fire 2019, October 18 or 19, Credit Union 1 Arena, Chicago. If you are looking for a faith experience for your middle school students, the Archdiocese of Chicago is hosting “Holy Fire 2019,” in October. Open to 6-9th graders, young people will hear high energy musicians and inspirational speakers from around the country and join with thousands of youth to get inspired for their faith. More info can be found at www.holyfirechicago.org.
  • Youth Ministers’ Retreat, January 24-25, 2020, Lindenwood Retreat Center. Save the Date! Youth Ministers are invited to the third annual Youth Minsters’ Retreat, hosted once again at Lindenwood. More info will come out in a few months. If you are interested in attending, please click this link to fill out an interest form. Please note: that link will not register you for the retreat. The information collected will be used to help plan the retreat.
Just a Thought:
On the white board in my office, I have a running list of possible topics for formation for youth ministers that I’ve gleaned from chatting with ya’ll. One thing on my list is “Volunteers: recruitment.”
Please do not feel like you are alone in praying for more adult leaders to step forward to help with youth ministry programs. Everyone that I met with during the Meet and Greets said that they were in need of more adults to help out. I’ll link to a few websites that have some good trips for recruiting volunteers, but they can be easily summarized:
  • Personal Invitation: We all know that bulletins and emails can easily be overlooked. Personally inviting someone into ministry can be a very powerful think. Recognizing and affirming in someone that they would be great serving our young people can make all of the difference. Even if they say “no,” or “not right now,” you’ve planted a seed in their mind that maybe they are called to help with youth ministry.
  • Stop Using Guilt: People don’t want to feel obligated to do something or pressured into action. That makes the ministry less appealing. It makes helping seem like a obligation rather than an act of ministry. Instead, affirm their gifts, tell them the positives of being in ministry, and help them see what their “yes” could do to the lives of young people.
  • Use Appealing Language: Like the previous point stated, when you seek out volunteers, pick positive and personal stories to share the importance of your ministry. Talk about how you’ve seen a young person’s faith blossom while participating in a ministry event. Share what you’ve learned about your faith and your call to serve others. Paint a realistic picture for them of how their “yes” can help young people at your parish.
  • Be Clear on Expectations: No one likes staring something without knowing what’s expected of them. Be thoughtful for how long you are going to ask them to serve, give them concrete examples of what they might be doing, tell them what kind of training they may need to undergo, and be ready to answer questions.
  • Think Outside the Norm: When looking for volunteers, expand your horizons. Does it always have to be parents of youth ministry kids? Could it be recent empty nesters who are used to helping out? What about the older people in your parish who always make the best tamales? How could they help your youth ministry program? If you look outside of your typical pool of volunteers you might find people who are perfect for what you are looking for. Looking do to night where you play games or a dodge-ball tournament? Look to those in your parish who are coaches already. Help them use their gifts for their parish.
  • Think about Roles: Because of time commitment issues, it might be helpful to evaluate the roles that people could play in your youth ministry program and break it down into smaller tasks. There could be people who really like to volunteer for organizing food. Perhaps create a food ministry team. Or you have a few parents who seem to know everyone. See about getting them to help with volunteer organization. Look at what your current needs are and see how volunteers could help fulfill those needs.
  • Offer a Trial Run: Have people who are thinking about helping out to observe a youth ministry event. Allow people to see what they might be getting into and if it would be a good fit for them.
  • Make Use of an Application: The Diocese of Gary has a volunteer application form, but feel free to make your own application to help you understand your potential volunteers better and to help them understand what they might be volunteering for. Remember: all volunteers have to go through Safe Environment training as well as undergo a background check.
  • Have Others do the Recruiting: It can get stressful if you are the only one doing the recruiting. Ask your pastor, other youth ministry volunteers, or parents to help you in your recruitment. They might know someone you don’t who would be perfect for this ministry. Remind them to share their own story of why they value youth ministry.
  • Pray: As you are doing all you can to invite new volunteers, don’t forget to ask God to call people to your ministry and ask the Holy Spirit to help them be open to that call. After you gave it your all, you need to put your trust into the hands of the loving Father to help you care for your young friends. “Jesus, I trust in you.”
  • Share Your Volunteer Recruitment Best Practices: If you have a “best practice” tip for recruiting volunteers, please feel free to share it! I’ve created a Google Doc that you can add your own tried and true tips. Feel free to check it out and see what other people have added or reach out to each other to find out more information. http://bit.ly/YAVolunteerBestPractices
Here are the links to the websites I gleaned a lot of this info from.
This week, let’s all take a minute and pray for those in the Diocese of Gary who are being called to volunteer in our youth ministry programs. May God guide them to use their gifts to help support the young people of our parishes.
Peace and all goodness,
Vicky Hathaway
Ministry Consultant for Youth and Young Adult Ministry