St. Anne’s Youth Peer Ministry: A New and Exciting Endeavor!!
By John Schmitt, Coordinator of Youth Ministry
Republished from the July 2011 Spirit Newsletter
If you read carefully, the underlying theme of my monthly Youth Ministry article in the “Spirit” focuses on the parish perspective and how all of St. Anne’s Parish Youth Ministry must be centered in that parish perspective. The fact is, if the only view of my job is to keep the teens busy with things to do here at church, and prepare them for Confirmation, we are missing the point. Yes, Noah’s Ark was a blast last month. Yes, we leave in a few short days for a mission trip to South Dakota for a life-changing experience. Yes, the central goal is to grow the community of youth within our parish so that wherever the youth of our parish come from or go to school, they know without a doubt that they have a place at the table and are welcomed into the community for who they are and what they have to offer. As I begin my fourth year of ministry here at St. Anne’s, the number one thing I know and see real and present is the willingness and open heart of the parish to welcome the youth. HOWEVER, the fact is youth are impressionable because of each other, simply put, they come and do things in packs.
The connection between the strong community of our parish with the tendencies of youth to do things only if their friends are doing it is what has been the success of other parish’s youth ministry programs and what is the missing link in ours. New for this fall, the plan is to launch the St. Ann’s Peer Ministry Leadership Program. This process and foundation is intended to bridge the gap between the desire for youth in vital roles within our parish community and the current reality of so many other viable options calling for their attention instead such as co-curricular involvements, sports, school etc. Essentially, the simple way to describe this experience is one part student council, one part leadership development, one part community building. Students will serve, lead, and support their peers as they develop a deeper experience of God’s love. What ministries of the parish will these youth serve in? Who specifically are the youth that will serve in these roles? When does the training start? The answers to these questions are up to you the parish community through your support and encouragement!!
Honestly, the hardest part is to answer the question of who will serve in these roles? We need your support and encouragement to truly make this a success!! I ask for your nomination and support of youth you personally know or have met that would have the spark for true leadership within our parish community. Yes, my plan is to contact the youth I see the spark of leadership in regarding this effort, however that can only go so far. With your support as parents, grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, we can truly assemble a great team of youth for this process. SO if you know of someone that has the spark of course give me a call or send me an email, but at the same time, encourage that youth to consider such a role. The fact is, when such comments of encouragement comes from a loved one or someone the youth trusts, he or she is more likely to respond and take the chance with a new idea.
Keep up the great work St. Anne’s!! Together we can make a difference, best of all get ready for great things this fall and well into the future with the youth we know and love!