Lately, we’ve heard the phrase “missionary discipleship” quite a bit; it’s one of those “trending” topics. Much of the buzz about missionary discipleship comes from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel. In it, Pope Francis says, “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus; we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries,’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’”
How does this fit into Youth Ministry? I believe teenagers are more than willing and capable of serious discipleship, and once they encounter Jesus Christ, they are able to share that encounter with those around them in a unique way. Here in the Diocese of Lansing, there are many wonderful opportunities for our teens to encounter Jesus in a powerful way. The hope of the Office of High School and Middle School Ministry is to offer high-quality events that intentionally provide our youths with rich encounter opportunities, along with the exhortation to go out and proclaim Jesus to the world as missionary disciples. Here are a few examples:
On Nov. 5, we are hosting our annual high school diocesan youth conference, “Unashamed,” at the Lansing Center. Formerly known as “Jamboree,” this daylong event will feature an opportunity for deep encounter with Jesus through Mass, confession and eucharistic adoration, as well as dynamic presentations, music and fellowship. Our theme this year comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Rom 1:16) Teens will leave with an excitement and zeal to go out and make disciples. Check out www.lansingyouth.com for more details.
The March for Life
The Diocese of Lansing will be chartering buses for the pilgrimage to the March for Life on Jan. 19, 2018. This will be an opportunity for teens to put their discipleship into action, marching for the dignity of human life, especially the unborn. The March for Life is a great opportunity for our youths to go out and announce the Good News of the Gospel of Life to the world.
Middle School Rally
The rally, an annual event, will be held at Jackson Lumen Christi High School on March 10, 2018. It will feature Paul J Kim, and is an opportunity for students in grades 6-8 to encounter Jesus through Mass, dynamic presentations and fellowship, and to learn about how to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
DYLC (Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp)
DYLC is a weeklong leadership training experience for high school teens happening July 15-20, 2018, at Bethany House in DeWitt. This training will take place through the lens of missionary discipleship, equipping teens with the confidence and the tools they need to go out and make disciples by leading others to Christ.
Watch for the launch of four regional encounter opportunities, to be held at our Catholic high schools. Each evening event will consist of praise and worship, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession.
We will be offering various training sessions for youth ministers and volunteers to help support the work they are doing in our parishes, and to make sure they have what they need to accompany our young people. Some potential topics include Theology of the Body, communication/social media and prayer ministry. Stay tuned!
Please keep our efforts, as well as all of our young people, in your prayers!