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REACHING YOUTH TODAY

By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominicans

 

People in the US and around the world

are frequently seeking answers to the question: “How do we reach youth today in a positive and meaningful way” There is a growing generation gap and often young people are searching for hope and meaning, a spiritual grounding and a sense of purpose for their fragmented lives. Most also want to be respected and more involved in addressing the needs of our time in a broken and fragmented world. Some are already getting into leadership roles and making a difference.

 

What would enable adults to offer life and hope today and help youth to use their gifts in creating a better world for all people? We ask ourselves: “What is the central truth of our lives? How do we nurture it and live the values we profess?” Gandhi once said: “We must be the change we want see happen in our world.” Then young people will be inspired to be part of the solution to today’s challenges and to share their efforts with the global community. Many today have global networks to connect with people across lines of culture, creed and class and this gives them many opportunities to imagine and create the kind of world that will be good for all and at the same time enrich their own lives. It will take the material and spiritual gifts of everyone to create such a world.

 

What are youth seeking? In my conversations on this topic over the years, there are many common trends in their search.

 

*   Many today are living with labels and often feel they have little or no value. We need to help youth get beyond the labels and use their multiple talents in the building of a better world.

*   They are looking for a safe and healthy community, especially in a time of deep recession and extreme economic problems. They need a safe and secure environment to keep their hope and sense of belonging.

*   Youth need listening ears today to help them discover their own path in a struggling world and to use their energy toward peace and community building.

Many lack a basic education and need to learn more skills to survive. Some of our local communities have established training for work and life skills, have involved youth that have little or no work experience, and walked with them while they were seeking work and after they started their first job, to make sure they would be successful. Employers are recruited that would give them a chance to work and use the time and energy required to help them be successful.

*   Parents also need to help youth develop their skills, stay away from dangerous habits such as drugs and gangs, that hinder their chances of success in life.

*   Spiritual values are very important and are often missing in the lives of families today. Awareness of such values needs to be restored An awareness of the divine presence will bring a sense of security especially in troubling times and will encourage people to relate to each other in ways that are affirming, encouraging, and motivating for positive action for the good of all people. Churches and other organizations can be very helpful in leading youth to meaningful action to alleviate poverty and bring hope. One such example came to my attention recently in MN. where high school students from Apple Valley School  were recruited and trained to spend several weeks in one of the poorest place in the world to learn about poverty and what people go through in their survival efforts. They were interested in learning from the people how best to respond to the needs of those in dire poverty. Information was provided on global warming and how it affects the poor.  Go to www.TwinCities.com for more information. Other groups with similar hopes and goals are springing up across the US and beyond. That surely is a sign of hope and calls us to be alert to such opportunities wherever we are. Youth are the adults and community builders of the future and need to be affirmed and trained for their mission.

 

We interviewed a group of high school students in a local Catholic School in Racine, WI and they offered these ideas:

  •       Youth need adults who will listen to them and not just talk about business all the time. Listen to their concerns about school, relationships, the challenges they face and other issues, and when appropriate, offer some advice. Help them face life’s issues and walk through tough times with courage and hope.

  •       Offer words of encouragement and gratitude when they see young people doing good things. Listen to and learn from youth about their concerns and hopes.

  •       Get involved in youth groups and help them find ways to help in responding to community issues and helping others. Demonstrate ways they can be leaders in their communities. Alert them to the need to use the media responsibly.

  •       Encourage youth to be their best selves and assure them that there are endless ways to help create a good community.

The World Future Society has frequently encouraged people to include all in their planning and implementation of plans including older adults, people that are challenged mentally, physically, and especially our youth.

 

Such a move will provide more security, a sense of worth and purpose in life for youth today and will enhance the life of the entire community.

 

We can consider ourselves honored to accompany youth in their search for a meaningful, hope-filled and productive life for all people. No effort is too small to make a difference.

 


Preaching Essay Archive

Just click on an Essay title below to read it.
(The latest submissions are listed first.)

• The Journey Through Lent •
• A New Year - A Time To Choose •
• Called To Continue Our Journey As Peacemakers •
• CALLED TO NAME •
• CHOOSING HOPE IN TIMES OF DARKNESS AND CHALLENGE •
• Easter: A Call To Renew Our Faith •
• Fan Into Flame •
• Grieving Our Losses •
• IMAGINING A RE-EVANGELIZED CHURCH •
• The Importance of Inter-Religious Sharing •
• THE PROMISE OF EASTER –“ THAT ALL MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE.” •
• Are We Living In Pentecost Times? •
• Living With Gratitude and Hope •
• “Lumen Fidei” – the Call and the Challenge •
• What is the "New Evangelization"? •
• Pentecost •
• PRAYER OF PREACHERS •
• Inculturated Liturgy Challenges Preaching to Flower •
• Preaching Lent - Year C •
• Preaching Luke •
• Preaching Mark •
• Reflection - Psalm 127 •
• Reaching Youth Today •
• The Need To Reclaim And Live With Moral Courage •
• The Sacred Triduum •
• STRENGTHEN OUR HOPE TO REPAIR A BROKEN WORLD •
• Welcoming the Stranger •
• Working for Peace •

Blessings on your preaching.


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