John MacMullen led a talk during OCY’s first Youth Ministry Training Day on Sept. 19 where aspiring youth ministers learned how to facilitate ministries in their own parishes. Photo courtesy of Office of Catholic Youth

Youth ministry gets jump start from Family of Faith

By  Julie Hall, Youth Speak News
  • October 30, 2015

TORONTO - Fourteen “highly invested” parishes and nine new parishes will be hiring new youth ministers within the next few months thanks to funds raised through the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Family of Faith campaign.

John MacMullen, associate director of youth ministry at the Office of Catholic Youth (OCY), said the Family of Faith campaign — an ambitious campaign still underway that will help support the mission of the archdiocese’s Pastoral Plan — is already having an impact on youth ministry within the Archdiocese of Toronto.

“The Family of Faith campaign is the first glimpse at what funding can do for such budding ministries,” said MacMullen. “Three years ago, the OCY had a relationship with around 20 parishes who had active and ongoing ministry happening. With this plan starting to take action now, we are already seeing numbers between 80 and 85 instead.”

MacMullen said the Family of Faith campaign has been essential in turning the archdiocese’s Pastoral Plan into a reality. The campaign has already passed its goal of raising $105 million, and for parishes with limited resources, these funds will allow for annual subsidies to hire and implement new youth ministers within parishes.

“The funding from the Family of Faith campaign is helping towards the establishment of many wonderful programs such as EDGE for students between Grades 6 and 8, LifeTeen for high schoolers, and many other programs. Events such as Edge Adventure camps, Steubenville conferences, and even ultimate frisbee tournaments, are being advocated for. Many parishes are wanting to become more invested in starting stable and ongoing ministries within their halls,” said MacMullen.

For OCY, the funds will support existing youth programs and provide proper training for prospective youth ministers.

MacMullen believes youth ministry is something that can be established within every single parish, no matter its size, and it is something we can all strive for. Youth ministry can be a wonderful source of spiritual nourishment for the many who will carry on the missions of the Church.

While MacMullen said the main goal is to have youth ministry present in every parish across the archdiocese, the plan does not assume all parishes will be able to begin youth ministry in the same way.

“The Pastoral Plan is not designed to cookie-cut every parish,” said MacMullen. “It recognizes that every parish community has its own demographics and therefore needs to be approached differently.”

The ultimate goal of the campaign is to significantly strengthen, inspire and transform each of the 225 parishes in the archdiocese. There are many different ways in which the funds generated through this campaign are going to be put to use including, but not limited to, establishing new parish churches, local and parish-based projects and the restoration of St. Michael’s Cathedral.

The campaign has so far raised gifts and pledges of approximately $124 million across the archdiocese. The campaign is allocating about $5 million to directly aid in establishing and fostering the growth of parish-based youth ministry.

With the Family of Faith campaign soon to wrap up, MacMullen said there are still ways in which parishioners can become involved — volunteering time and effort to help with maintaining such ministries within respective parishes, continuing financial support for the programs, and prayer.

(Hall, 17, is a candidate for first-year philosophy at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont.)

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