Youth ministry: the basics

Last Friday night was a night of contrast and comparison. On the one hand, in the old school adjacent to the church, the Hamilton Catholic Youth Group held its Christmas breakup, which included a dance party:

The girls tended to favour this. The boys spent more time playing corridor cricket!
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The girls favoured this. The boys preferred corridor cricket!

Meanwhile, in the church hall, the Southern Grampians Old Time Dancers held their own Christmas breakup:

The juxtaposition of these events reminded me of an excellent article I came across last month. It contrasts the good ole days — “back when Wally Cleaver was wearing a jacket and tie to join other boys and girls at a party, for playing records and eating ice cream and dancing” — with the present day: “the epileptic jerks of disconnected ‘partners’ on a strobe-lit stage, all conversation made impossible by noise from hell.”

But the article is not as pessimistic as you might think. In fact, it’s a constructive analysis of the deficiencies of contemporary culture and what we can do about it.

Where are all the Catholic Youth Organizations?  They used to sponsor basketball games, for both the players and the people who’d be in the stands cheering them.  Where are the socials?  Where are the bowling nights, the picnics?  Where can our young people go to have innocent fun, not just alongside the other sex, but specifically for mingling with them, meeting them, flirting with them, searching for one of them to love?  Where are we nudging them gently along toward marriage and the sweetness of that life?

These are not extras.  They are of the essence.  I’m deeply interested in theology, but most people aren’t.  The “theology” they drink in comes from Mass, from prayer, and from—note this well!—the natural life of people in the Church . . .

. . Not everybody can speak learnedly about church architecture.  Not everybody wants to hear about that.  Not everybody can speak learnedly about grace and free will.  Not everybody wants to hear about that.  But everybody can learn to sing, everybody can learn to dance, everybody can watch a good movie, everybody likes a picnic, or a hike, or a trip to the beach, or a goofy time at the bowling alley, or a softball game, or an ice cream social, or coffee and tea and doughnuts.

Read it all: Catholics, Awake! Marriage Doesn’t Just Happen!

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