Guiding parishes

Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting focuses on youth ministry

The meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council took place at Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School on April 23.

Following the opening prayers, DPC executive secretary Tina Dyer announced that the diocese is still searching for a director of youth ministry. “The thrust of our meeting today is on youth ministry,” said Dyer. “We’re trying to get a handle on what the parishes are doing for the youth.”

Dyer then announced that the election for the executive committee members would be held in May. Each region of the diocese is asked to elect two people to the executive committee. The executive committee plans the agenda and meets before each meeting to find out what the council members and the bishop want to discuss. “We would like to know what you want to see on the agenda,” said Dyer.

Father James Lang, chairman of the diocesan youth minister search committee, gave an overview of youth ministry. He said Bishop Joseph O’Keefe created the Office of Youth Ministry in 1987. He described youth ministry as a celebration of Christian life with young people. Father Lang asked, “How do we make the youth ministry in our diocese more meaningful?”

Father Lang informed those in attendance that the search for a director of youth ministry would reopen this week. “We want to make teens part of our church,” Father Lang said. “Your ideas are welcome.”

The participants then dispersed into eight groups to discuss three questions: What resources/materials are needed in your parish to carry out a youth ministry program? How can a diocesan director of youth ministry help you? What activities does your parish now have in place for youth?

After the discussion, the groups reported their thoughts about the youth ministry program. The council members were enlightened by what they heard. Joan Anderson, a long-time member form St. Matthew’s Church in East Syracuse, found it very helpful. “I think the members of my group had some great suggestions,” said Anderson.

Many of the groups answered the question “What resources/materials are needed in your parish to carry out a youth ministry program?” with similar responses. Some of the resources that were mentioned frequently were: a youth ministry website, directions on how to run the program, guest speakers, workshops for the youth ministers, money, a full-time youth minister, a list of youth ministers and how to contact them, and interesting projects for the youth.

The groups responded that a director of youth ministry could help them by notifying them of upcoming events well ahead of time, holding a forum for youth ministers so they can exchange ideas, meeting with the youth ministers on a regular basis, providing models for the youth minister program, holding an annual teen rally and providing mentors to new youth ministers.

Many of the groups reported that the activities that their parishes have in place for youth now are: Eucharist ministry, fundraisers, retreats, youth choirs, scout trips and children’s liturgy.

Dyer then gave an update on the diocesan website, She said they could find information about the DPC on the website.

Next, representatives from two parishes gave a presentation on how their parish is carrying out the “Best Practices”(faith in action) program. The program was designed to address Bishop Moynihan’s three priorities of personal holiness, evangelization, and stewardship.

Marysia Ruta from Holy Family/St. Michael’s Church in Fulton explained its Fair Trade coffee program. Only fair trade coffee is served at parish events. “Some of our choices reflect living our faith,” said Ruta.

Judy Young from Immaculate Conception in Fulton explained how her adult luncheon program is very rewarding for the parish volunteers. The luncheon is held once a month in the cafeteria of the parish’s former school. It is open to the community and it provides a social setting for 60-70 people.

After that, Bishop Thomas Costello gave an update on the process of assigning pastors. Since 1978, pastors have been assigned to a six -year term at a parish. This term can be extended with the exceptions of health problems or if the priest turns 68 years old before the second term expires. If the pastor assumes a second parish, the clocks go back — the first term doesn’t count. Bishop Costello mentioned that the diocese has an informal application process for a priest to use if he wants to change parishes.

He told the council members that he had made use of their suggestions. The council members had suggested that newly-ordained priests should have a mentor. As a result of this suggestion, a new priest can now choose a mentor when he assumes his first pastoral position. “Thanks to your suggestions, we now have a more comprehensive snapshot of how the parish works,” said Bishop Costello.

The meeting ended with Bishop James Moynihan’s closing remarks about Bishop Costello and the new pope. He thanked Bishop Costello for his work as the vicar for the clergy. “The service he gives is monumental,” said Bishop Moynihan.

Bishop Moynihan had some very positive things to say about Pope Benedict XVI. He said that the world’s overwhelming desire is that the new pope would carry on the wonderful openness of John Paul II. “I’m confident that it will continue,” said Bishop Moynihan. “He’s a world-class theologian. I think our church will welcome his understanding of the challenges of the church.”

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