Fr. Britto's Blog

Youth Ministry

A month ago we were enthralled by the images of our Holy Father visiting Brazil for the World Youth Day in which hundreds of thousands of young people participated. We were particularly moved by the throng of three million that crowded the beach for the Eucharist celebrated by Pope Francis. The present pope has continued a tradition initiated by Pope John Paul II who had a unique power in attracting young people. Thanks to these World Youth Days numerous young people from many parts of the world have rediscovered the beauty of their Catholic faith. Both these popes have shown us by their personal example how important young people are to the Church.

These two shepherds were following the example of the Good Shepherd Himself because Jesus had a predilection for young people. There are many stories in the gospel that narrate how Jesus loved the company of children and young people. He told His protective disciples: “Let the little children come to Me!” There is one story in particular that always moves me. The Gospel of Mark (10:17-22) recounts how a man met Jesus on the road and asked Him how he could be perfect. The other two gospels – Matthew and Luke – point out that he was a rich, young man. In verse 17, Mark states that Jesus “looked at him and loved him.” Jesus called the young man to greater things but the young man walked away sad. We never hear about him again.

This is exactly what the Lord wants us to do – to invite young men and women, little boys and girls, to be the best they can be. As a parish we must ensure that our young people not only feel welcome but also feel challenged to be the best. To that end the Church at large and our archdiocese insist that every parish must establish a youth ministry. We do have a youth ministry and I would like to invite each and every high school student to consider becoming part of our youth ministry. In our bulletin teens will be receiving an invitation to participate. I hope and pray that many teens will respond positively to this invitation.

Our new full-time youth minister is Caroline Hopkinson who has already served as our interim. She has demonstrated that she can connect with our young people. Caroline has grown up in our parish and many of you know her well. She proved that she can get things done. Over the summer she took twelve teens on a service trip that proved to be a life-changing experience for most of them. Both the parents and the teens are excited that she is our youth minister. I am looking forward to a great year for our teens under her able and enthusiastic leadership. She is young and fully familiar with social media. Under the wise mentorship of Deacon Bob, I know that she will take our youth ministry to another level.

Our youth ministry has three basic objectives: faith, community and service. The ministry is geared towards helping our youth engage with their faith. Their understanding of the faith should not stop with confirmation which happens in eighth grade. Our youth ministry will seek to help them learn their Catholic faith through retreats, talks, discussions and participation in the Sunday liturgy. Second, during their teen years a sense of community is essential. Through various social activities our youth minister will help our teens feel supported and connected to other young people in the parish. They will not ever feel alone. Finally, our youth ministry will offer opportunities for our young people to serve the poor and the needy. It will organize service trips twice a year and also provide other avenues for service during the year.

Recent sociological research has shown that parents exercise the greatest and the most significant influence in the lives of their children. As we all know, teenage years are a precarious time for our young people. High school can be a tough challenge for many. Our youth ministry can be a powerful help to guide teens along a safe and healthy path. I plead with all our parents to encourage and even to insist with their teenage children that they consider taking advantage of the resources of our youth ministry. Last Tuesday was the feast of St. Monica who prayed for over twenty years for the conversion of her son, Augustine. Her prayers were answered and Augustine became one of the greatest saints of the Church. I ask our parents to pray for their children every day. At the same time, I request them to use all that the parish offers for the benefit of their children.

Let us keep our children and young people in our prayers. Please support our youth minister, Caroline, and our youth ministry.

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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