Diocesan youth conference will be held March 30
Bishops' Appeal helps diocese sponsor event for high school youth
Editor's note: Sixth in a series on the Bishop's Appeal.
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference
Who: Students in grades 9-12 and adult leaders.
When: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 30.
Where: Notre Dame Academy, 610 Maryhill Dr., Green Bay.
If you go: Fee for the day is $20 if registered by March 19. For registration and information, visit www.gbdioc.org, click on "Evangelization and Worship," and click on "Youth" under Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Bishop's Appeal at a glance
The 2008 Bishop's Appeal campaign provides for 50 percent of the diocese's operating expenses. All gifts are tax-deductible and credit cards are accepted. Pledge gifts allow donors to spread contributions over a 10-month period.
Those who give $500 or more a year to the Bishop's Appeal become members of the Crozier Society. Donors participating in Advancing the Mission stewardship campaign retain membership. Josh Diedrich, director of the Bishop's Appeal, encourages donors to ask their employers if they provide a matching gift program.
For more information about the Bishop's Appeal, contact Diedrich, at (920) 272-8197 or 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8197; e-mail: [email protected] or go online to www.gbdioc.org.
GREEN BAY -- Several youth conferences have been offered in the diocese in recent years, but one was needed that "truly unites the diocese," said Rich Curran, diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry.
The Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference (DCYC) will be held on March 30 at Notre Dame Academy. The event, for high school students, will feature four rounds of workshops, a keynote presentation, teen witness talks, reconciliation, liturgy with Bishop Robert Morneau and a pizza bash.
"We are trying to mirror the National Catholic Youth Conference," said Curran. "Not everyone can afford to travel to the national conference. Those young people who cannot go should have the opportunity to receive the same quality of presentations."
Featured presenters include Eric Groth of Outside Da Box, Inc.; Jamie Delikowski, an educator at Pacelli High School in Stevens Point; recording artist Noelle Garcia, who is also coordinator of youth ministry at St. Patrick Parish in Portland; and singer, songwriter and storyteller Steve Angrisano, who will deliver the keynote.
"It's my hope that the conference grows beyond a day in the future," said Curran. "We want to set the bar high this year. We need to challenge ourselves to be better, to expand and to create a wider vision each year. We can't keep doing the same things because the needs change."
Curran will oversee the conference, but he recently resigned from the diocese to serve in religious education at St. Raphael Parish in Oshkosh and to make speaking engagements throughout the country. Curran described his work for the diocese over the past four years as "building relationships."
"It's about connecting people with one another," he said. "It really is about finding effective communication tools and reaching people."
Prior to restructuring in the diocese in recent years, youth and young adult ministry was a part of Total Catholic Education. It is now a part of Evangelization and Worship, which receives 18 percent of its funding from the annual Bishop's Appeal, under way in diocesan parishes.
One method Curran used to build relationships was "You and YOUth Ministry News," a weekly newsletter offering resources for youth ministers and event listings. The newsletter featured a Web page format with bright colors, photos and hyperlinks. Nearly 500 people received it.
"For the most part, outside of a few pockets, this is a rural diocese," said Curran. "We are also dealing with a lot of volunteers and a lot of part-time employees in youth ministry, so we needed a good tool to reach people. We not only need to advocate youth and young adult ministry, but to let people know what options are out there. There may be two people 10 miles apart that are doing similar things. If we connect them, they can share their resources."
Young adult ministry is also about building relationships, said Curran, but it requires a "completely different mindset from youth ministry."
"(Young adults) are living on their own," he said. "They have full-time jobs. They are married or exploring marriage. They have children or are considering children. They are making major life-changing decisions during those years. Their needs are completely different. For a long time, we treated young adult ministry as an extension of youth ministry. That was a huge mistake."
Teens are connected through school, faith formation, religious education or youth groups. Young adults have a more difficult time building those relationships.
"Unless you work for the church, you don't talk about your faith at work," said Curran. "I often get calls from people in their 20s and 30s telling me that they visited a parish where there were no young adults and there is nothing happening."
Theology on Tap is an example of a successful program for young adults, but Curran describes it as "one small piece of a much bigger picture."
"It creates an environment and brings in a catechetical element," he said. "There is a great hunger there, but it is four weeks of a speaker series. We need to sustain it."
A common tool that is effective in reaching both young adults and youth is technology, he added. He supports using the Web to engage young people in their faith.
"The Internet, that's our whole frontier," he said. "While there are a lot of evils on the Web, there are tremendous possibilities and a lot of positives. We have to go to where the people are in their lives. You can't wait for them to come to church."