Now in his second year as the shepherd of the Diocese of Cleveland, Bishop Nelson Perez has taken steps to better understand the status of the ministries serving youth and young adults in the diocese and to provide a road map for strengthening them.
The bishop recently convened an ad hoc “think tank” comprised of youth ministers, diocesan young adult leaders, those involved with Catholic community-based youth organizations and others to answer the question, “What should youth and young adult ministry in the diocese look like in the next three to five years?”
At the initial meeting, Bishop Perez greeted the group members who then spent time in prayer. Then they gathered to listen to the bishop as he shared his call to develop ideas that will lead to a vision and mission for youth ministry in the diocese, a vision and mission that is culturally and socially diverse that could serve the diocese well in the years to come. He charged the group to “think big” while considering the reasonability and feasibility of their recommendations.
Group members expressed a sense of hopefulness for what might evolve as a result of the initiative and a gratitude for the opportunity to help make a difference.
Representatives from the diocesan Secretariat for Parish Life and Development, youth ministry, Newman campus ministry, vocations office, clergy, religious and laity from other groups external to the diocese like Young Catholic Professionals and the Coalition with Young Adults attended the initial gathering at the diocesan offices. Terry Flanagan, executive director of parish outreach and mission for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland, and Lynette Saenz, assistant secretary of the diocesan Office for Parish Life and Development, will serve as co-chairs of the group. Consultant David Delambo will provide research support.
One step discussed by the group involves researching and considering best practices already in place in other dioceses. The group hopes to complete its work within the next 8 to 12 months.