Naughton: teach young people about the deeper realities of life, responsibility and the best the Church offers
As the local Church seeks to form young people in the faith, it will be important for adults to remember their own sinfulness, teach the deepest realities of life, offer the best of the Catholic Church and not not allow young people to shirk their responsibilities, a presenter told the June 5 Assembly of the Archdiocesan Synod.
“Without such educational training, young people who bounce off a slogan and a tendency to be told they can be whatever they want to be, become anxious, depressed, fragile, risk averse and ultimately intolerant,” said Michael Naughton to about 500 delegates at the meeting. .
“Catholic education in the formation of youth has never been more necessary today than in the history of mankind,” he said. Among other challenges, the digital world offers too many alternatives to the Catholic faith, he said at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul.
In his address, Naughton, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and a longtime teacher, addressed the third of the Synod Assembly’s three focus areas: training young people and young adults in and for an ever-young Church. He revisited themes he had first presented during the one-day Parish Synod Leadership Team consultations held in parishes in February and March in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and from Minneapolis.
Parents are the primary educators of their children, especially when it comes to passing on the faith, Naughton said. “What the Synod process also highlighted is that parents want and need help in this role” from the archdiocese, their parishes and their schools, he said. . It’s a joint project, he says, with parents and the church working together.
“Educating and training our (young people) basically comes down to three things that I think each of us wants for our young people,” he said. “First, we want to see our young people grow stronger in faith, not weaker. We want our families, our parishes and our schools to be places that witness to the presence of God in the way they live, preach, worship and teach.
“Secondly, we want our young people to grow in morality and virtue. We want them to have good friends who don’t reduce them to the lowest common denominator, but lift them up to their fullest God-given potential.
“And thirdly, we want our young people to become adults responsible for their work for the common good and their state of life, whether secular, religious or priestly. Young men, in particular, run the risk of prolonging their adolescence, of becoming “moys”, male-boys. We don’t want man-boys,” Naughton said.
As the church grapples with youth disaffiliation, it “must discern whether the mission and culture of our institutions and programs convey the best of the church and bring out the best in our youth,” Naughton said. “We need more honesty and more light on what works, and we also need to confront and critique those things that led to mission drift, that aren’t working.”
“Discerning these realities is not easy, which is why it takes the discussion and discernment that this synodal process has given us,” Naughton said. “So God bless you as you engage in this important work of the Synod on this most important ministry, the formation and education of our young people,” he said.
After prayer and two separate small group discussions on the third focus area, numbers were drawn and those assigned those numbers were asked to share their thoughts on one of the action proposals. , such as parents as primary educators, family involvement in parish life, faith formation and service to others.
One delegate said she is a faith leader in a ward and struggles with the fact that her own three children, all in their twenties, are not in the Church. While there are great teaching resources, more teachers are needed to make catechesis really work, she said. “We have so far to go.”
“You bring experience and sorrow” to the discussion, Bishop Bernard Hebda said appreciatively, as he listened to his and others’ ideas and made occasional comments alongside Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Williams.
One delegate suggested forming small, vibrant communities of young people, who would in turn work to form their own disciples. “Young people leave (the Church) if they have nothing to keep them there,” he said.
Establishing religious support groups for struggling parents could be helpful, another delegate said. And the Church must do more to guide and help people struggling with homosexuality and gender dysphoria, she said.
Several delegates suggested greater collaboration between parishes in youth ministry, and another delegate spoke tearfully about the need to tell young people that their lives are worth more than they think.
“We have to go back to what the disciples did,” she said. “They were only 12, not 500.”
Bishop Williams said his comments were the perfect transition to an area the archdiocese will begin working on this summer: lay apostles chosen by pastors in each parish to help evangelize. They will also be asked to help ensure that the plans emerging from the Synod in a pastoral letter from Bishop Hebda in November, followed by a plan of action, are discussed and implemented.
“There is a bountiful harvest,” Bishop Williams said. “What did Jesus do?” He prayed, then he appointed 12 people to be his disciples and evangelize, the bishop said.
After small group discussions and large group sharing, each delegate voted for their top three among the proposals. Early results indicated strong interest in adult faith formation, parents as primary educators, small groups, and Mass education.
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