Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Youth program assists ministry personnel from Spokane, Yakima dioceses
by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff
(From the June 9, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
The dioceses of Spokane and Yakima have teamed up to offer a Youth Ministry Studies Program for parish employees and volunteers who work with adolescents, teens and young adults.
Presented by Connecticut’s Center for Ministry Development, the program consists of eight weekend sessions over the course of two years. The series of workshops is meant to equip youth ministry coordinators, directors of religious education, high school campus ministers, youth ministry teams, catechists and any other interested parties with the knowledge, skills, practical tools, and techniques needed for creative and comprehensive ministry with youth.
Paul Mach, director of youth and young adult ministries for the Diocese of Spokane, brought the program to the region.
“It’s a great program,” said Mach who participated in it in Wisconsin in 1990. “I’m learning something new in every session I sit in on.”
The primary aim of the Youth Ministry Studies Program is to promote personal, spiritual and ministerial growth, and it is utilized by this year’s 20 participants in a number of ways. Some take it as an integrated formation program leading to a Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies. Others, as an enrichment or continuing education program, and still others simply take it as a workshop series on a course-by-course basis. Some people choose to take just one or two courses in the entire two year series simply because they are interested in a particular subject, feel a need for some extra guidance or just want some new ideas.
The vast array of topics range from leadership and community support to evangelization and catechesis to worship and pastoral care. Each session is meant to give parish leaders skills and ideas they can put into use in their own programs right away. The program also has the benefit of helping to instill the confidence, competence and credibility of leaders for effective ministry with youth.
Susan Logsdon, the director of religious education and youth ministry for the parishes in Walla Walla, is participating in the program with two of her volunteers. Both Logsdon and the volunteers have found the program entirely worthwhile. Logsdon applied for and received grant funding through the Catholic Foundation of Spokane to help pay the volunteers’ tuition, allowing them to continue participation, with a reduced financial burden.
Logsdon said that the best part of the program are the practical skills learned each session that can immediately be used at the parish level. “The projects that are assigned to us are things we can actually use in our parish at the same time,” she said.
Logsdon has found the material provided by the program to be very helpful. “I didn’t even know what I didn’t know,” she said.
Mach said that the workshops are a great place for people in youth ministry and religious education fields throughout the Spokane and Yakima dioceses to gather together, share stories and generate new ideas.
Logsdon agreed that spending time with other ministers is a very valuable part of the program. “It is very rewarding to be involved with so many fine ministers who give up so much to learn how to improve youth ministry in our diocese, and in Yakima,” she said.
Mach said that one of the key elements of the program is that it emphasizes the importance of youth ministry to the entire parish community. “It’s about getting them involved in the parish,” said Mach. “And it takes the whole parish to do youth ministry – to get them involved.”
(For more information about the Youth Ministry Studies Program, contact Paul Mach at (509) 358-7314 or pmach@ dioceseofspokane.org.)