How do we do it?

Faith Connections has evolved over the years, challenging itself to stay relevant and meet young adults’ needs. One of the documents we have used in developing our ministry guidelines is Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

We have offered some of the following programs within the USCCB categories:

  • Catechesis (Alpha – a 10-week basic introduction to Christianity)
  • Community life (opportunities to meet religious and other Catholic singles at mixers)
  • Evangelization (Theology on Tap)
  • Justice and service (June Justice Month)
  • Leadership development (networking, connecting young adults with volunteer opportunities)
  • Pastoral care (meeting young adults one-on-one over coffee and conversation)
  • Prayer and worship (themed hikes, scripture studies)

Teamwork

Sisters of St. Joseph help us with and attend events, building connections with young adults in this way. In the first years, a Working Advisory Team of young adults, Sisters, and other resource people served as a sounding board and planning committee for our program. Young adults volunteer with us as facilitators, photographers, greeters etc. We give volunteers workshops and practical training in their roles along with role descriptions and expectations. We invite young adults to evenings that include prayer, faith sharing and fellowship. They have access to a network – including our web site featuring Faith Connections' and other events and a presence on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We also send a regular newsletter with a calendar of events and activities.

Partners

Faith Connections is well and truly linked with many other organizations that are open to relaying their own news and co-hosting upcoming events. The benefits have included sharing resources, dividing the workload and increasing and deepening the connections.

Considerations in starting a similar program

Many parishes and other organizations have called Faith Connections with questions about our ministry. Invited to make a presentation at the March 2010 TAVDA conference, we outlined the following strategies underlying our planning:

  • Invitation: young adults need to be invited to participate through several venues and in different ways: personal invitations, parish bulletins and posters, web sites and other forms of social media;
  • Collaboration: organizers should consider partnering with existing groups, thereby learning from them, gathering expertise and sharing resources;
  • Networking: connecting with others doing young adult ministry – religious congregations, parishes, ecumenical youth groups, other organizations – is valuable;
  • Support:
    • For leaders, self-care is essential;
    • Another source of support is attending professional development/learning opportunities like young adult ministry conferences and forums;
    • Meeting others working with young adults on a regular basis to share challenges and blessings is a rich experience.