Catholic Free Press

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Starting aNEW with youth, young adult ministry

Posted By January 31, 2014 | 12:52 pm | Featured Article #4
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By Tanya Connor

The diocese’s youth and young adult ministry is taking new turns, in more ways than one.
The diocesan office is getting a new name, and launched  its new website, according to the new director, Elizabeth Cotrupi. The office is called “New Evangelization Worcester For Youth & Young Adults” or NEW for short. The website is NEWorcester.org. The new logo incorporates a host and chalice.
“I just loved what it had to say,” Mrs. Cotrupi said of the name. And she loves the fact that the Eucharist is prominent.
Bishop McManus said he wanted the name to include youth and young adults, and she came up with this one, she said.
“I felt like we needed a fresh start,” she said. “New evangelization is a buzz word that’s been around for the past few decades. The spirit of the new evangelization came out of Vatican Council II.”
She said she was motivated by reading “Evangelii Nuntiandi,” an apostolic exhortation about evangelization by Pope Paul VI, under whom the council was completed. She said she was also inspired by Pope John Paul II speaking about new evangelization.
“The Church’s mission has always been to evangelize, but I think we’ve been refocused,” to reawaken the faithful and reach those not practicing, she said.
The message is not new, but Pope John Paul II called for new ardor, methods and expression and Pope Benedict called for re-proposing the Gospel to those who’ve already heard it, she said. To her, Pope Francis epitomizes the new evangelization.
Mrs. Cotrupi quotes from “Evangelii Nuntiandi” in her office’s online newsletter, which she said is to go out soon: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (No. 41).
The majority of teenagers’ parents are not practicing the faith regularly, so a diminishing return would be expected in how much these teenagers pass on the faith to the next generation, she said.
“If faith is to not only survive but thrive,” she said in the newsletter, “we need to assist teens and young adults to move from the inherited faith of their parents to one that is uniquely their own. After we get them in the door, we must give them frequent opportunities to develop a direct relationship with their Savior through prayer, sitting quietly in adoration, reconciliation, meditating on the Scriptures, attending a meaningful retreat …”
The youth will remember being loved, she told The Catholic Free Press.
“If they come to our parishes and find us and not Jesus, we’ve missed the mark,” she said. “They need to be able to recognize Jesus in us. … That’s what I want for this department. How do we communicate that?”
First, those leading youth need their own relationship with God, she said.
To help bring about a renewal her office has planned events.
“A Dynamic Training Seminar for Reaching 21st Century Teens” is to be held March 8 for clergy, catechists, Scout leaders and others who work with youth. The location is to be announced. Frank Mercadante, author of “Engaging a New Generation: A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens,” is to “offer a strategic vision for the whole parish to reach out and hold onto our young people,” the youth ministry newsletter says.
It also announces a seminar April 3, at St. Joseph’s Parish Center in Auburn. Speaking are Michael White and Tom Corcoran, authors of “The Story of a Catholic Parish Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, Making Church Matter.” Co-sponsoring it with NEW are the Bishop’s Office, The Catholic Free Press and Partners in Charity.
For more information about this and other NEW activities, one can visit the website, which is to be launched Jan. 31, the feast of St. John Bosco, patron of youth. Mrs. Cotrupi said that seemed like an appropriate launch date, though the office doesn’t have an official patron.
“Obviously the Blessed Mother,” is the key saint she turns to, she said.
Mrs. Cotrupi, who is certified in catechetics and youth ministry and began work at the office in September after doing parish youth ministry and training, is also turning to others for input.
She and Father Nicholas Desimone, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Uxbridge and bishop’s liaison for her office, asked young adults about their struggles and wishes.
“We can’t be afraid of teenagers and young adults,” she said. “Jesus just walked around and met people and challenged them.”
One of the messages to get out to the parishes is “not to be scared of these kids or whether they can go deep, because they will,” though some won’t be ready, she said. “You’ve got to journey with them.”
Mrs. Cotrupi said she’s met with Hispanic youth ministers and wants to work with other ethnic groups too. She’s met with parish leaders, with whom she wants to regularly pray and talk about reinvigorating their programs. And she had an “exciting meeting” with the diocesan Parish Renewal and Evangelization team, whose members are to help with the April 3 seminar.
Mrs. Cotrupi expressed hope that others will inform her of their activities, best practices, recommended reading etc., so she can post some of these on the website. The website is also to post videos and have links to video resources, a Facebook page and the Twitter account, WorcesterNEW.
Working with her on the logo was Andy Lesnefsky, a Pittsburgh youth minister who also runs Glory Design Concepts, she said.
The NEW office is supported in part by Partners in Charity.
– Mrs. Cotrupi can be reached at liz@neworcester.org, 508-929-4360 or 774-230-6866.