Magazine article Momentum

A Teen-Friendly Model for Sharing the Themes of the Doctrinal Framework in a Parish Setting

Magazine article Momentum

A Teen-Friendly Model for Sharing the Themes of the Doctrinal Framework in a Parish Setting

Article excerpt

Teens who do not go to Catholic high school are hungry for the lessons of faith and the friendship in the Lord that is among the Framework's overarching goals

I have an old but reliable lawnmower. Every Saturday it takes a few extra cranks on the starter to get it going. Sometimes, especially if the sky is cloudy and the temperatures cooler, I think the engine will never turn over.

But I don't give up. I pull that chord with faith. And my lawnmower does eventually start and run smoothly. And after the right number of passes, the mangy turf of our front and back yards looks nicely manicured.

I was thinking of this image recently in relation to catechesi for teens in parish religious education and youth ministry programs. The U.S. bishops unanimously approved the curriculum framework for high school teens in November 2007 ("Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age," see Momentum September/October 2010).

The adaptation of the Framework for use in parish and youth ministry programs came along in January 2010 ("Adaptation of the Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age for Use in Youth Ministry Programs").

And here we are in 2012. We've been applying all our strength since then to encourage some type of catechesis connected with the themes of the Framework. While some parishes already are humming along, others still can use a couple of extra pulls on the chord to put a model in place for sharing the bishop's Framework with teens.

This article presents one model for the six courses or themes of the Framework in a parish setting. It is based on arranging a calendar around three trimesters from September to May, with two one-month inter-terms in between. If you are a parish DRE or youth minister and haven't been able to get this piece of your programming started or running smoothly just yet, perhaps some of the ideas here will help.

Building on What's Already Happening

Consider some ways catechesis already is being done in parish programming for teens. For example:

At regular weekly youth group events, lots of things happen: prayer, discussion, social time. Part of each session or perhaps one session out of four is devoted to a catechetical theme.

Liturgy well attended by teens is a natural starting point for a lesson. Gospel themes are interwoven with other catechetical themes. Certainly themes of the highly Christological Framework are also a natural fit.

Some parishes have continued a classroom model for high school religious education. Courses may be offered as prerequisites for entering a confirmation preparation program.

Building on these ideas, it's time to promote the necessity for teens to complete a sequence of the catechetical themes required by the Framework.

Don't laugh. It's not impossible. Teens always are trying to craft a wellrounded resume for inclusion on college applications. How about creating a diploma or certificate of completion that teens could list on an application as further proof that they are wellrounded beyond sports, drama, afterschool jobs and SAT scores? Or, what about this: For years, a DRE at a parish in Louisiana has solicited parishioners and local businesses to reward teens who complete certain levels of high school religious education with college scholarship money, up to $500 dollars for finishing all of the required courses.

Ideas connected with expectations and rewards are important; more so is developing a flexible programming schedule and a variety of methods for delivering the courses and lessons that are centered around the Greatest Story Ever Told- salvation history that points to its culmination in Jesus and his family, the church. With proper care in promoting, planning and executing these courses, they have the potential to be places where teens truly choose to be present. …

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