Summit Gathers Diocesan Leaders to Focus on Young Adult Ministry

By Tim Bishop

WHEELING—Director of the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Bob Perron traveled to Washington May 6-8 for a conference on youth and young adult ministry. Titled Young Adult Summit and hosted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Layity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, the event brought together diocesan level youth leaders from around the country. The summit was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

“In 1996,” Perron said, “the USCCB published a document titled ‘Sons and Daughters of the Light’, in which they laid out a pastoral plan for ministry with young adults. I think it’s fair to say that young adult ministry has changed drastically since then.

“It is easy to define youth ministry,” he added, “but when it comes to young adult ministry, you have people in various states of transition in their lives. Those transitions change how young adults connect with their parish. We didn’t come up with all of the answers, but we began to frame the questions and begin to address how we reach out to young adults.”

“This gathering was a wonderful way to bring together leaders from across the country who have a passion and ministry with young adults. We may very well be experiencing a renaissance of young adult ministry, as more people are concerned with reaching out to young men and women who are disconnected from the Catholic community of faith and struggling with economics, decisions, transitions and all the upheaval that goes on in young adulthood,” said Paul Jarzembowski, assistant director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries at the USCCB’s Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

Perron said much of the summits focus centered on keeping young people in the faith. “Many of them are leaving, or not coming back,” Perron said. “So we wanted to take a look at those issues and how do we better reach out to them in our parishes.

Perron noted that in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, few places exist that do young adult ministry. “It is such a complex issue,” he said, “so a lot of dioceses have moved to a regional grouping of the ministry. We are seeing that here, but we do we do have young adult ministry at the parish level.”

Perron said that parishes with young adult ministry should contact his office at (304) 233-0880, ext. 311, to discuss ways to enhance their ministry. Perron also encouraged young adults who want to become more involved in parish life to contact his office.