As the Synod on Young People is taking place in Rome this month, my mind turns to 92-year-old singer Tony Bennett. Why? Over the past several years, this ageless crooner has taken to doing duets with young talent, most notably Lady Gaga (and currently, Dianna Krall, who, though not as young as Lady Gaga, is still nearly 40 years Bennett’s junior!). I’ve used the Tony Bennett-Lady Gaga example on numerous occasions to encourage those of us who are more “seasoned” catechetical ministers to devote more energy to promoting and supporting younger talents in our midst.
In my book, A Church on the Move, I offer the following:
We have to stop thinking of young adults as the “next” generation of Church leaders and instead must begin placing them into positions as the new generation of leaders. How can we begin to lift up and groom new leaders? Here are some suggestions.
- Be proactive in calling forth young adults to visible roles in liturgical and catechetical ministry as well as other leadership roles, such as parish pastoral council, communications team, and finance council.
- Identify workshops and seminars to which your parish can send young adults (the parish paying their fees and expenses), asking them to represent the parish, and then have them report through the parish bulletin, website, or social media accounts.
- Invite young adults to serve as leaders and facilitators of small faith groups.
- Invest in the formation of several young adults each year, calling them forth to participate in various formation programs offered by the diocese or other local institutions (such as lay-ministry formation or spiritual-director certification).
- Create a parish scholarship program to fund the formation of young adults in degree programs in theology or pastoral ministry, with the agreement that they, in return, serve the parish in some capacity.
As the Synod on Young People progresses this month, let’s pray that the catechetical ministry that we so dearly love will be re-energized by the gifts and talents of young people, and may those of us who have “been around the block” a few times more than others take a page from Tony Bennett’s book and lift up young talent!