The National Institute has identified three pressing and interrelated issues:
- Young adults (defined as women and men in their late teens, twenties, and thirties) have consistently expressed their hope and desire for greater accompaniment, formation, and opportunities to serve the Church and society.
- At the same time, the Church has expressed her hope and desire for greater participation and discipleship of young adults. Caught in the middle of these hopes and expectations are pastoral ministers, from bishops and pastors to lay leaders and parish volunteers, who minister to and with young adults. All pastoral ministers need to be accompanied, supported with resources and community, and formed in the best practices of ministry with young adults.
- There was no formal organization or entity that fulfilled this need. There was no permanent national level “home” where pastoral ministers can turn for the support they need. The National Institute for Ministry with Young Adults is now poised to be able to do just that.
Responding to Reality
- The growing disaffiliation of young adults from institutions and communities is an issue much more complex than we realized and needs serious study and reflection.
- Responding to this reality is nuanced and entrenched in the lived experiences of young adults today and, because of this, mature scholarship and collaboration is necessary. The National Institute for Ministry with Young Adults is responding to this critical need.
- In light of this context, we can state with confidence that young adulthood and young adults themselves are not “a problem to be solved,” but in fact a moment of great opportunity for the Church to grow and encounter the “sons and daughters of the light.”
- In all of this, the good and the bad, the People of God must continue to walk with young adults.
- Young adulthood is when people finish schooling. It is when they choose a career. It is when they get married. It is when they begin to have children. It is when they enter religious life and the priesthood. It is when they take a gap year to serve on mission. It is when they may become a member of a parish. It is when identity is formed, and habits of holiness take root.
- Young adulthood is also a time when people end schooling early or struggle to find a career or occupation that they find meaningful. Too often it is a time of broken relationships, divorce, or loneliness. It is too often a time of struggle to survive, of unemployment, under employment and unformed identity. It is too often a time of walking away from the Church and the Christian faith. The good news is that the Church in the twenty first century is uniquely equipped to accompany young adults through it all.
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