In May of 2016 I wrote the following letter to my parishioners of Divine Mercy Parish, summarizing our first year of YDisciple, the new high school youth program that I had introduced there. YDisciple is a parent-driven, small-group program that was crafted by people very experienced in youth ministry. The materials are outstanding. High school youth experience belonging, very solid materials to help them think deeply about the faith, and devoted attention from group leaders. The program is very flexible, able to happen in families' homes, at the time most convenient for families of each particular group. I think the letter speaks for itself, giving you a feel for how we viewed YDisciple after our first year. Please spread the word that this fall we are going to begin groups for St. Wendelin high school youth. See in the bulletin the flyer about the information night. Here's the letter I wrote to my last parish after one year of YDisciple:
Since we are finishing up our first academic year of YDisciple, I thought I could give you a bit of a summary of the year.
Overall, it seems the year was quite a success. As I have made very clear before, I consider YDisciple at our parish something that happened as a direct result of the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was asking her to help me figure out what to do for our high school youth, and a couple days later I heard an interview on the radio with one of the creators of YDisciple. (I hope you are listening to Catholic radio like I am!…. 89.7 FM Annunciation Radio…. You'll learn so much about the Faith!)
In the fall we formed six groups of high school men, and five groups of high school women. Gracious adult parishioners agreed to undergo some training for the program, so that we could have two adults leading each group. The idea was that each group would meet three Wednesday nights per month, and then on the remaining Wednesday nights we would have an activity for all of our high school youth together. [Groups were not bound to use Wednesday’s, but that seemed to be the best night for all of the groups.]
The year was broken into various themes, each theme being covered in four or five Wednesday gatherings. Here are some of the theme titles: “Follow Me,” “True Strength/True Beauty,” “Spreading the Gospel,” “Truth and Tolerance,” “Who Is God?,” “Who Am I?,” “The Church,” “Prayer”.
The whole-high school activities planned for each month were: a hayride and bonfire, a beanbag Catholic movie night, two occasions of Theology on Tap at the Pasttime Restaurant (featuring the pastor!), a pizza/dodgeball/gaga ball night at the Divine Mercy Payne hall, and an evening visiting the nursing homes. The evening at the nursing homes got canceled because of bad weather. The Catholic movie night was not well attended, probably because we planned it on a Saturday night. The Theology on Tap evenings were great. The youth really participated beautifully! This coming Wednesday we will have another service project, i.e., the cleaning up of our two cemeteries in preparation for Memorial Day.
It seems YDisciple has been life-giving for everybody: the youth, the leaders, their families and the entire parish. So we definitely plan on forging ahead to make it even stronger.
On Sunday, July 31 we will have a whole-high school and junior high family get-together out at the old “Klinger beach” quarry. The couple that now owns this property has graciously invited us. We will start the afternoon with prayer and a short presentation of YDisciple, including a couple student witnesses, and perhaps a group leader witness. Then we will move on to food, fun and games. This will actually serve as something of our kickoff for the next year, presenting the program to potential new families coming in from junior high, and hopefully enticing current high school families who do not yet participate in the program to get on board. All families with high school and junior high youth will receive a card in the mail about this event.
So there is a summary of the YDisiciple year. I am so immensely grateful for all the work our youth leaders did this year! They stepped into something that was entirely new for this parish; and that requires a great amount of courage and hope. I can’t thank them enough! But then there are many other people who helped so much to make the year work: especially members of the high school core planning team, and then those people who allowed groups to meet in their homes, and those who gave of their time and talent to make individual events happen. Look what happens when we all coordinate our efforts and pitch in!
That's what I wrote to my last parish a year into YDisciple. Please pray for wisdom for how this fine program can enrich our high school youth in this parish. Please spread the word, and check out the details for the YDisciple information evening in this bulletin. Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae et Iosephus,