New Curriculum Involves Accompanying Our Youth
by Andrea Hoisl
“Walking with our youth in faith is dependent upon our trust in the Holy Spirit – trusting that it will take us where we need to go – closer to Christ,” said Fr. Frank Donio, director of the Catholic Apostolate Center in Washington, D.C., at a recent presentation to catechists, catechetical leaders and parents in the diocese.
Here is the complete video of Fr. Donio's Talk-
Accompanying our Youth on their Faith Journey
The topic of Fr. Donio’s talk was Accompanying our Youth on their Faith Journey, a topic that has a great deal of significance for the diocese as it implements its new faith formation curriculum this fall. Accompaniment is about meeting our young people where they are – without judgement or expectation – and sharing our own faith journey with them, he said. Teachers, catechists, pastors and parents are not seen as older or wiser, but rather further along on life’s journey – with many more life experiences from which to learn.
Fr. Donio, a Church history enthusiast, reminded everyone present that, “meeting people where they are” is not a new concept for us as Catholics. “The American Church did this for years with missionaries as well as with ethnic parishes that met the needs of the immigrant Catholics – welcoming, accepting and having all needs met by their parish family.”
The Catholic Apostolate Center was founded in 2011 to respond to the needs of the Church through developing, in collaboration with dioceses and other institutions and organizations, formation programs for the New Evangelization, as well as assisting pastoral ministers in deepening collaboration with one another.
Accompanying our youth on their faith journey calls adults to help our youth understand the role they have in the mission of the Church. Adults are challenged to recognize and remind our youth that the gifts and talents they possess were given to them by God, to help build His kingdom here on earth, said Fr. Donio. This involves role modeling as well as possessing a deeper realization that as baptized Catholics we are called to more. Most often times these concepts are made real for youth through “real world experiences” that have lasting effects on our youth.
Fr. Donio continuously referred back to Pope Francis’ teachings on being joy-filled believers. Citing the pope’s warning to adults, Fr. Donio said, “All should regard young people with understanding, appreciation, affection and avoid constantly judging them or demanding of them perfection beyond their years.” This type of accompaniment involves patience and love as we help our young people understand God’s plan – a plan that leaves nothing to chance or circumstance. We hope our youth can ultimately see God actively working in our lives and through the people we encounter.
Family is the first and most significant point of accompaniment for most young people today stressed Fr. Donio. With this in mind, he added that anything said and done by family members needs to reflect the values of our loving, supportive and merciful God. Often times this involves listening to our young people and helping them hear God’s voice amid the noise and confusion of the world.
“Fr. Donio’ s presentation was not complicated, but it did highlight for all of us the ways we succeed and the ways we sometimes fail to assist our young people on their faith journey,” said Marianne Nicholas, OFE Administrative Assistant. “It gave everyone present a lot to think about while also making us feel hopeful and energized.”