A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a brief article about forming men and women in their 20’s and 30’s as leaders in the Catholic Church for the NCCL‘s Monday Morning Greeting. Below you will find the article:
A few years ago at the age of 25, I found myself sitting in a conference room at NCCL’s annual conference and feeling overwhelmed as I surveyed the room and realized I was one of very few people under the age of 40 in attendance. At that moment I experienced both joy at being among my colleagues in ministry, and fear as I wondered: “Who will follow in the footsteps of the incredible people in this room?” I realized then that the Church had to invite, reach, and form more young adults as leaders of the church. As a young leader in the church, I realized I had both the opportunity and the responsibility to take action.
Today, I offer the following suggestions to my colleagues in ministry to serve and form, men and women in their 20’s and 30’s.
1.Notice and invite us: Notice that we ARE present at your parishes. Welcome us into your community. Invite us to not only fully participate in the church, but invite us into leadership roles and core teams that are central to parish and diocesan life. We can and will lead if asked.
2.Educate us, as we educate you: Invest your time, resources, and energy into deepening our knowledge of faith and spirituality. Teach us how to be faith-filled ministers, how to keep our personal lives and ministries rooted in God, and how to balance our personal lives with the endless opportunities for ministry. In turn, we can teach you about our culture, music, and way of praying. We can teach you how we use technology to build relationships and community. Together, our knowledge is a powerful force in reaching those we serve.
3.Mentor us and be present to us: Walk beside us as we lead in the church, and as we deepen our relationships with Jesus. Despite our preference for technology, we long for your presence and your companionship as we attempt to connect our lives and our faith. We have much to learn from the men and women who have been in ministry for decades. Share your wisdom with us, and help us discover the ministries where we are effective and passionate.
4.Challenge us, as we challenge you: Our worldview, our experience of faith, and our means of expressing our faith may not align with yours; however, we are seekers, as you are. As we challenge you, challenge us to see every aspect of our Catholic faith through exposure to all the church’s rituals, teachings, methods of prayer, and various spiritualities.
5.Embrace us as the adults we are: We are not youth. We share the same roles of worker, spouse, parent, leader, etc., as adults in generations older than us do. We desire the same things that all adults seek: to be connected, to belong, to make meaning of our lives, to deepen our understanding of our faith, and to strengthen our relationship with God.
Keeping all of the above in mind, we take on two roles in working with people in their 20’s and 30’s: we are both teacher and student.
Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction.
With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.
This truly does resonate, and is a great reflection. My husband came to our Catholic community because at his other one he could not find anywhere to fit in–a single man in his 30s. Of course, my benefit is that I met him! Still, we got to thinking of the ways in which we can get involved, and finding the outlets to do so–I found myself most empowered when clergy took interest in me and created opportunities for self growth AND for leadership!