When Pope Francis gave his homily at the closing Mass at World Youth Day (WYD) in August, 2016 in Krakow, Poland he talked to the young church that “God loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kinds of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.”
Motivated by Pope Francis’ words, on July 6, 2017, Deanery 6 under the direction of Our Lady of Refuge Parish launched the very first “Youth Ministry Institute for Teens.” The Youth Ministry Institute (YMI4T) envisions healthy, vibrant and dynamic training for teenagers who are seeking to develop their skills and to become effective youth ministers who lead youth in the formation of their faith so that they will positively impact their community and our local churches.
Our vision focuses on the local Church. We are simply helping to develop what we know about youth ministry, empowering our current teenage ministers to become skilled and effective leaders. Our responsibility is to provide the necessary tools and empower these young individuals to be the new sowers of the vineyard and to help their Church become more dynamic. Our Church needs to continue to engage young people in the formation of their faith so they may use their lifetime to make more disciples as Jesus instructed.
YMI4T consisted of 6 sessions of 3 hours each, on Thursday evenings. A total of 62 participants came from five parishes: Most Holy Trinity, Saint John Vianney, Saint Catherine, Saint Simon, and Our Lady of Refuge. The support of the Diocesan Offices of Youth and Young Adults and the Pastoral Juvenile were fundamental for these six successful training sessions. YMI4T opened its doors with a Eucharistic Celebration presided by Father Joe Kim, DSJ Director of Vocations. He also gave a presentation, “The formation of a leader – Identity.” Sessions were given by Father Steve Kim: “Evangelization trough Actions, How to prepare an authentic testimonial.”
Row David, Y&YA minister from Holy Spirit Parish spoke on how to be an effective small group discussion leader.
Steve Do, Diocese of San Jose (DSJ) Director of Y&YA: Organization Skills, How to prepare an effective Youth Ministry Sessions.
Sandra Torres, Associate Director of the Hispanic Apostolate and Pastoral Juvenile: Ethics in Ministry.
Robbie Ocampo, DSJ Associate Director of Y&YA: How to keep a Prayerful Life. We also had the opportunity to train the teens as lectors and Eucharistic ministers. We concluded the Institute with a Mass celebrating the fruits of their work, presided by Monsignor Francisco Rios and concelebrated by Father Steven Brown.
This program was partially sponsored by the participant parishes, Deanery 6 and The Catholic Community Foundation Grant: “Empowering the Young Generations.” A teen from Most Holy Trinity commented: “This training lit my heart on fire and I will come next year.”