This article originally appeared in the TAU-USA Winter 2019 Issue 99.
By MARY STRONACH, OFS
The afternoon began with an upbeat, music video portraying famous dancers from all generations – all dancing to the pop music, “Uptown Funk,” by Bruno Mars.
Suddenly, the hall exploded in dance which culminated in a congaline with regional ministers, national council, spiritual assistants, observers and guests.
The session, appropriately focusing on youth, maintained the upbeat tone. Br. Scott Slattum, OFM, director of Faith Formation at St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix, AZ and spiritual assistant for the recently formed YouFra fraternity at St. Mary’s, announced emphatically, “Youth and Young Adults are not aproblem to be solved, but rather an opportunity to be exposed to the gifts they bring us.”
He addressed obstacles on the “path to faith-sharing” – a neighborhood community of faith-sharing which no longer exists, a “fragmented and mobile” family structure with little or “no religious ethos,” social life that is no longer centered in the church, religious media that has gone out of business as a popular form of entertainment. And “now, CCD is left alone to do everything in at most two hours a week.”
The reality is that “the school instruc- tional model does not work,” he said. But, “the good news is that the church has given us a renewed path,” which, “integrated into a comprehensive of pastoral care,” will address the needs, developmental needs, life transitions and questions being asked.
He described it as the “Emmaus Model,” which is based on building a trusting relationship.
1. To be effective, first, join the people in their daily concerns and walk side- by-side … and listen as we walk.
2. Ask questions and listen as we walk.
3. Share the living word of God.
4. Trust the capacity of prayer and the sacraments.
5. Invite them to live and share the Good News.
Ramcy Caballeros, a YouFra member from the newly formed YouFra Group in Phoenix, emphasized the importance of listening to our youth. We need to learn who are our young adults and what are their needs.
She summarized: Our youth range in age from 12 to 18 and Young Adults from their late teens to 39. At this stage, they are focused on “developing their personal identity”, she said. They want to “develop relationships, how to accul- turate to other cultures” around them, to “develop a meaning of work …and a spiritual life.”
Brother Scott reminded the ministers and guests that YouFra “has to be done in partnership – the animator, the church, the friars and youth – walking side-by-side.”