Chico Nuguid, the full-time youth minister at Precious Blood Parish in Toronto, is questioned by a parent parisher interested in sending her child to the summer camp he will be running at the younger part of the congregation. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Family of Faith funds youth ministry

  • July 23, 2016

TORONTO – The Archdiocese of Toronto’s ultra-successful Family of Faith campaign is allowing parishes across the archdiocese to invest in their future.

A portion of donations to the recently completed campaign is already at work, allowing parishes to reach their youth through the hiring of a youth minister.

“Parishes who really want to make an investment in youth ministry and make it a focus, we are giving them the means to do that ... (and) it comes from the Family of Faith,” said John MacMullen, associate director of parish youth ministry at Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth (OCY).

Although a number of parishes already have, or have had in the past, youth ministry programs, these typically relied on volunteers to serve as youth minister. But through funds raised by Family of Faith, annual subsidies of up to $25,000 per parish are available.

“It doesn’t have to be any more a situation where a parish does it on the side or only if they have a volunteer who can provide a little bit of time,” he said. “The parish can now say we are making this a priority, we are making the time and we are putting money and effort into it to make sure that this becomes a mainstream part of parish life.”

The Family of Faith campaign was the ambitious and historic effort by the archdiocese to raise $105 million to support its pastoral plan. Catholics overwhelmingly supported the campaign, far surpassing its goal by pledging $164 million towards new parish churches, repairs to existing churches and local parish projects. The campaign allocated $5 million over 10 years for youth ministry.

Since OCY began accepting applications last year for youth ministry funding, 21 of the 23 parishes that applied have received some level of financial support.

“And we know that there are more on the way,” said MacMullen.

Precious Blood in Scarborough is one such parish.

“Young people are the future of the Church,” said Chico Nuguid, who was hired in November as Precious Blood’s youth minister. “There ought to be activities that will encourage them to really put themselves into Church life and really sow into it. I just want to see more young people in the parish involved with parish life whether it is helping to run the Masses or to just reach out to the community and connect other people that they encounter every day to something deeper.”

This past spring Nuguid held an Edge program, a ministry for students in Grades 6 through 8 which draws upon the LifeTeen curriculum used in high schools. Sixteen youth attended the spring program, which explored ways of integrating the Catholic faith into everyday life.

Nuguid is hosting a Totus Tuus Summer Program this month with more than 30 youth enrolled. It’s similar to the Edge program, though in Totus Tuus additional attention is paid to prayer life. In the fall Nuguid intends to continue both programs.

When he’s not in the parish, Nuguid stays connected with youth online using social media.

“Technology definitely plays a big part in a younger person’s life these days,” said the 35-year-old. “The youth ministry at (Precious Blood) has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and I’m just getting into SnapChat although I don’t really know what to do with that yet. It is just the way that they communicate with each other and connect with the whole world around them to answer a lot of the questions that they are starting to have.”

Nuguid and MacMullen see today’s youth asking questions starting with why rather the traditional what.

“A lot of young people today the questions on their lips are why does the Church teach this, why does the Church teach that, why does the Church say I’m supposed to do this?” said MacMullen.

Those questions are prominent with youth who have weak faith or no faith at all — the people MacMullen said youth ministries need to target to fill the parish pews of tomorrow.

“We are not just looking at the kids who come to church every Sunday and what can we do for them,” he said. “We have to proactively seek ways of going out to reach those kids who were baptized and we haven’t seen since their First Communion — how do we excite them and how do we peak their interest in what the Church is all about and our Lord Jesus Christ?

“The only way we can do that is to make sure that we have the people, the time and the investment to make that a priority.”

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