Catholic youth work

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Young people at Castlerigg Manor Castlerigg Manor work 4.jpg
Young people at Castlerigg Manor

The phrase Catholic youth work covers a wide range of activities carried out with young people, usually in the name of the Catholic Church and with the intention of imparting the Catholic faith to them and inviting them to practice and live out the faith in their lives. Activities in the field range from small scale youth groups attached to parishes or Catholic schools, to large international gatherings, such as World Youth Day. It is a field which has evolved much over recent decades, especially in comparison to more formal methods of education or catechesis within the church. Nearly all dioceses and a great deal of parishes have some form of youth provision running, although a great deal of areas particularly in the developed world are finding youth work both more difficult and rare as the numbers of young people regularly practicing the Catholic faith continue to decline. In contrast, though, the new and exciting developments of recent decades and particularly the influence of the new movements within the Church are ensuring that youth work continues to be an active and fruitful field.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.

World Youth Day event for young people organized by the Catholic Church

World Youth Day (WYD) is an event for young people organized by the Catholic Church. The next, World Youth Day 2022, will be held in Portugal.

Catholic education may refer to:


Forms of organization

Catholic youth organizations

In many countries local groups of Catholic youth have founded diocesan or national umbrella organizations to foster the exchange between young people and to organize joint activities, like camps, seminars or pilgrimages. Typical for the youth work of Catholic youth organizations is that their work is not determined by priests or other professionals but that they are self-organized and -determined by young volunteers. However, many Catholic youth organizations also elect a theologically qualified person as "preses". Many Catholic youth organizations in Europe are rooted in the movement of the Catholic Action.

Catholic Action was the name of many groups of lay Catholics who were attempting to encourage a Catholic influence on society.

Catholic youth work organized by youth workers, priests or orders

As with youth work in many Christian communities, Catholic youth ministry is often conducted by a combination of local priest pastors and lay volunteers. Some parishes, particularly in more affluent parts of the world, may well employee lay professionals on a full-time basis as well. In some areas of the Church, such as North America, there will be full-time youth officers at the deanery or diocese level. Some of the time these will be lay professionals and some of the time they will be priests or members of religious congregations. The advantages to employing priests in these roles include the reduced salary costs, their ability to minister the sacraments and their guaranteed theological knowledge. The shortage of priests in many areas, however, mean that dioceses are increasingly turning to religious or lay people, who as well as being a little more flexible, will also often be able to break down the barrier that is often perceived between priests and church congregations (e.g. the Salesians of Don Bosco).

Deanery an ecclesiastical entity in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Church of England and the Church of Norway

A deanery is an ecclesiastical entity in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, the Evangelical Church in Germany, and the Church of Norway. A deanery is either the jurisdiction or residence of a dean.

Diocese Christian district or see under the supervision of a bishop

The word diocese is derived from the Greek term dioikesis (διοίκησις) meaning "administration". Today, when used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. Sometimes it is also called bishopric.

Salesians of Don Bosco Catholic religious institute

The Salesians of Don Bosco is a Roman Catholic Latin Rite religious institute founded in the late nineteenth century by Italian priest Saint John Bosco to help poor children during the Industrial Revolution.

School chaplaincy

This is particularly popular in the UK and Australia and other countries where Catholic Schools are common, but struggles to receive recognition in many areas where the role of full-time lay people within the Catholic Church is still not properly respected or provided for. Chaplaincy involves a dedicated youth worker acting as a lay chaplain to introduce an element of youth work provision into a school so as to back up the school's Catholic ethos and complement the mainstream educational work of the school. In recent and not-so recent times, many movements have emerged supporting or complementing chaplaincies, including Newman Centers in several countries, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students in the United States, and Catholic Christian Outreach in Canada.

Newman Centers, Newman Houses, Newman Clubs, or Newman Communities are Roman Catholic ministry centers at non-Catholic universities found throughout the world. The establishment of this movement was inspired by the writings of Cardinal John Henry Newman encouraging societies for Catholic students attending secular universities. The first Newman club was established in 1888 at Oxford; the original Catholic club was founded by Hartwell de la Garde Grissell.

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is a Catholic outreach program for American college students founded in 1997 by Curtis Martin and Dr. Edward Sri at Benedictine College.

Catholic Christian Outreach Canada (CCO) is a Catholic missionary organization that is present at several Canadian universities. It seeks to bring students into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, equip them to live in the fullness of the Catholic faith, and build them up as leaders in evangelization.

Catholic residential youth work

This involves the focused work done normally for just a few days where a course or retreat is run for a group of young people in a residential retreat center. Normally this work is very transitory work and residential centers can expect to work, in some cases, with thousands of young people a year. Young people are normally sent on retreat by a school or parish and thus the work is normally secondary rather than primary input. Catholic residential youth work is particularly popular in the UK, where an established network of thirteen centers exists, including places like Castlerigg Manor, SPEC Centre, Briars, Soli House, St Vincents Centre and Walsingham House.

New movements

Movements such as Youth 2000 and various organizations connected to the Charismatic Renewal, will normally run either local groups not connected to parishes or schools, or larger annual events. Normally these groups will aim to enforce a certain part of faith in young people or a certain tradition or style. One of these new movements is LIFE TEEN, "leading teens closer to Christ"; a parish-based program centered on the Eucharist, Contemporary Christian Music, relational ministry and catechesis. Another movement is ECYD which focuses on youth service projects and personal prayer through a network of gender-specific clubs. Jesus Youth is a 28-year-old catholic youth movement, which begin in India and now present many countries around the world.

Youth 2000 is an international Catholic movement for young people, generally between the ages of 16 and 35. At their retreats, which are between 2 and 5 days long, teens and adults alike share their love for Jesus through the Eucharist, adoration, and praise and worship. It has been active since 1990 in the UK. The first weekly prayer group was held at the Carmelite Priory in Kensington.

Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a spiritual movement within the Catholic Church that incorporates aspects of both Catholic and Charismatic Movement practice. It is influenced by some of the teachings of Protestantism and Pentecostalism with an emphasis on having a personal relationship with Jesus and expressing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Eucharist Christian rite

The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Mission Teams

Mission teams are groups of youth workers who spend a period of time (usually around a week) in schools or parishes running a program, normally fairly kerygmatic in nature, with a group of young people. The transient nature of these programs makes this field somewhat similar to residential work, however the increased costs of maintaining mission teams combined with the difficulties in recruitment mean that they are normally not as widespread.


Training and qualification

The issue of training and qualifications for Catholic youth workers is normally a sticky question in many parts of the world. The advantages and generosity of lay volunteers, for instance, is often augmented in the minds of some people by their lack of catechetical and theological knowledge in comparison especially to priests and also by their lack of training in informal education in comparison to secular youth workers. Many systems to educate and train youth workers have appeared and youth workers are able to participate in schemes for catechists (such as the CCRS in the UK). Also many youth workers in the Church are increasingly opting for secular training. On the whole though, the Church still lacks a formal and widely recognized system of training and achievement for youth workers. Although a Foundation Degree in Youth Work/ Youth Ministry (with professional JNC recognition) started in September 2007 at Newman University, Birmingham. This will be the first of many across the UK.

The Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS) is a certificate managed and awarded by the Board of Religious Studies on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It was introduced in 1991 to replace its predecessors, The Catholic Teachers’ Certificate and the Certificate in Religious Education.

Newman University, Birmingham university in Birmingham, UK

Newman University is a public university based in the suburb of Bartley Green in Birmingham, England. The university was founded in 1968 as Newman College of Higher Education. From 2008 to 2013 it was known as Newman University College, until gaining full university status in 2013. The University is 'student centred' and offers degrees in various subject areas from teacher training, sports science to humanities and the liberal arts.

Birmingham Major city in the English Midlands, 2nd highest population of UK cities

Birmingham is a major city in the West Midlands, England and is the second-largest city and metropolitan area in England and the United Kingdom, with roughly 1.1 million inhabitants within the city area and 3.8 million inhabitants within the metropolitan area. This also makes Birmingham the 17th largest city and 8th largest metropolitan area in the European Union. Birmingham is commonly referred to as the nation's "second city".

Spiritual activities

Empowerment and personal development

Social activities

Different levels

There are a variety of different activities which are classed as Catholic youth work. They include the following:

Parish based youth work

A great deal of parishes have groups which cater to young people in some way or other. These may be designated 'youth groups' of 'youth clubs' or may be groups for particular young people within the parish such as altar servers or those about to receive confirmation, for example. Whether or not all groups for, or including, young people in parishes can be considered among the realm of youth work is debatable as many will be catechetical or organised around particular duties rather than holding to the established methodology of informal education. Both Catholic youth organizations and national and diocesan youth ministry departments often offer resources, ideas and programmes supporting parishes to plan and run own local youth ministry activities.

Area (diocesan/deanary) youth work

Many dioceses or deanaries will employ a coordinator to look after youth initiatives for a group of Churches. This is especially important in areas where not every parish can afford a full-time worker. Typically these coordinators, who may be a priest, a religious brother or sister will be responsible for training local volunteers and assisting them in setting up local youth groups, organizing large events or pilgrimages such as to World Youth Day, and building links between parishes and other local Catholic bodies such as schools.

International Catholic youth work

International Catholic youth organizations

There are also international networks and umbrella organizations of Catholic youth organizations (one of the biggest e.g. is the International Federation of Catholic Parochial Youth Movements [1] ).

World Youth Day

A global event held every 2–3 years and attended by the Pope. The event in the Philippines in 1995 was attended by over 5 million people, making it the largest Christian gathering ever. The last event was in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil in 2013; ; Krakow, Poland in 2016 was visited by current pope.

2.1 million people turned up to World Youth Day 2000 in Rome Wydrome2000.jpg
2.1 million people turned up to World Youth Day 2000 in Rome

Ecumenical cooperations

In some countries there is traditionally a good cooperation between youth organizations of different Christian denominations and churches. In Germany e.g. the Catholic youth umbrella BDKJ and the Protestant youth umbrella aej founded together the fairtrade initiative GEPA. [2] There are also cooperations at international level. E.g. the International Federation of Catholic Parochial Youth Movements (Fimcap) has got a partnership with the European Fellowship. [3]

Recent challenges

Church and society

In many countries not the some doctrines of the Catholic church are perceived by the public opinion as outdated or out of touch with reality. Often this perception is not only shared by the general public opinion but also by Catholic lays and especially young people. A study of the University of Münster with participants from 42 countries from different continent e.g. shows that in many countries would wish reforms of the Catholic doctrines, especially regarding the doctrines about sexuality. [4]


Demographic challenges

Related Research Articles

A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a parish priest, who might be assisted by one or more curates, and who operates from a parish church. Historically, a parish often covered the same geographical area as a manor. Its association with the parish church remains paramount.

In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy, usually including any non-ordained members of religious institutes, e.g. a nun or lay brother.

Catholic Youth Organization organization

Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) is a Roman Catholic youth organization originating in Chicago.

Lay ecclesial ministry is the term adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to identify the relatively new category of pastoral ministers in the Catholic Church who serve the Church but are not ordained. Lay ecclesial ministers are coworkers with the bishop alongside priests and deacons. In other contexts, these may be known as "lay pastoral workers", "pastoral assistants", etc.

Catholic Church in Europe

The Catholic Church in Europe, is part of worldwide Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See in Rome, including represented Eastern Catholic missions. Demographically, Catholics are the largest religious group in Europe, while church attendance has declined in the past decades.

Chiro Flemish youth organisation, founded on Christian values

''ChiroFlanders'' is a Belgian youth organisation, founded on Christian values, active in Flanders, Brussels and Eupen-Malmedy. With more than 100,000 members Chiro is the biggest youth organization in Belgium. While mainly focusing on having fun, it also aims at developing youngsters' responsibility and skills. Chiro is a member of the umbrella of Catholic youth organizations Fimcap.

Youth Ministry, also commonly referred to as youth group, is an age-specific religious ministry. Faith groups or other religious organizations carry out youth ministry to involve and engage with young people who attend their places of worship, or who live in their community. Christian youth ministry usually encompasses one or more of the following:

Christianity in Thailand Religious demographics of Thailand

Christianity was first introduced to Thailand by European missionaries. It represents 1.2% of the national population, which is predominantly Buddhist. Christians are numerically and organizationally concentrated more heavily in the north, where they make up an estimated 16% of some lowland districts and up to very high percents in tribal districts.

The FIMCAP, which is short for Fédération Internationale des Mouvements Catholiques d’Action Paroissiale, is an umbrella organization for Catholic youth organizations. Its 36 member organizations are based in 33 countries. The FIMCAP was founded in 1962 and is recognised as an official Catholic organization by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. FIMCAP is also a full member of the European Youth Forum.

The role of a Catholic catechist is to catechise (teach) the Faith of the Catholic Church by both word and example.

The "Katholische junge Gemeinde" is a major German Catholic youth organization. KjG has a democratic structure and local groups throughout Germany, mainly in Catholic parishes, with a total of about 80,000 members. The KjG is a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations, Fimcap, and the German umbrella of Catholic youth organizations, BDKJ.

Forum Oratori Italiani (FOI) is a Catholic youth organization in Italy. FOI is a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations Fimcap.

eRko – Hnutie kresťanských spoločenstiev detí (eRko) is a Catholic youth organization in Slovakia. eRko is a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations "Fimcap". eRko is registered at the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic as a non-governmental organisation. eRko is also a member of CIDSE. eRko is based in Roman Catholic parishes as well as in Greek Catholic parishes. eRko is one of the biggest children's organizations in Slovakia.

Coordinació Catalana de Colònies, Casals i Clubs d’Esplai (CCCCCE) is a Catholic youth organization in Catalonia. CCCCCE is one of the biggest members of the Catalan youth council and a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations Fimcap.

Asociația Grupurilor Locale de Tineret

Asociația Grupurilor Locale de Tineret is a Romanian youth organisation. At international level AGLT is an associate member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations Fimcap.

The Catholic Youth Organization Ghana is a Catholic youth organization in Ghana. CYO Ghana is a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations Fimcap.

The Catholic Youth Organization Nigeria is a Catholic youth organization in Nigeria. CYO Nigeria is a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations Fimcap.

The Kiro Congo (KCD) is a Catholic youth organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is one of the important big youth movements in the country. Kiro Congo is a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations Fimcap.

Kiwo Ayiti or Mouvement Kiro d'Haïti a Catholic youth organization in the Haiti. Kiwo Ayiti is a member of the Catholic umbrella of youth organizations Fimcap.

Hatsal Youth Ministry Institute is a Catholic organization in South Korea providing formation for people working in youth ministry as well as research on topics related to youth ministry and a network for the Catholic youth ministries in South Korea. Hatsal is a member of the umbrella of Catholic youth organizations Fimcap.