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A busy few months and the rich rewards

How is your family? Your wife, the kids — how are they doing?” I get these questions often from youth ministry leaders, priests or ministry colleagues. In the first two months of the calendar year, my answer was half-jokingly, “They’re ready for it to be April.”
January and February are overflowing with youth and young adult ministry, both on a local level and a national level. If my count is correct, I’ve walked more than 115,000 steps for youth ministry events in those two months. I’ve been on the roads for more than 2,700 miles related to those events, either personally driving or riding in a charter bus. I also flew to San Antonio and back (boy, are my arms tired.)
A Search Retreat, the March for Life pilgrimage, a national meeting for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, and the Archdiocesan Catholic Youth Conference —there is a lot going on for our ministry and me during January and February!
Family and friends will often ask me, “Why do you do that to yourself?” I even ask myself that question sometimes, when I finally sit still long enough and let silence envelop me. One could even extend that question further — why have youth and young adult ministry at all?
I’ve often shared about “young Adam Ganucheau,” the version of myself that was a teen in a parish youth ministry program. Our parish hired their first full time youth ministry leader when I was a junior in high school. The parish invested its time and resources in youth ministry, which was an investment in me.
I’ve often shared about my parents who sacrificed so that my siblings and I could attend Catholic school and made our faith a priority in our family. My parents invested in my spiritual well being through family prayer and retreats.
So perhaps there is a small motivation for me to “pay it forward,” having realized that so many adults invested in me as a young person, and now that I am a young adult, I have the opportunity to do the same with the next generation.
Yet, I think there is more to it than that. Our young people are not just the future of the Church, although that is true. Our young people are a dynamic, energetic, joyful and hopeful part of the Church today — the young Church as they are often called.
Dozens of teens participated in a Search Retreat, spending time away from family and friends to discover who they are — a child of God. Hundreds of teens stood for the protection of human life at the March for Life. Hundreds of teens came together to celebrate being a young Catholic in the southern half of Alabama at ACYC. Though there are many, God loves each of them individually.
With those teens are dedicated and passionate adults who sacrifice their time and talents to help young people encounter the living God. We are blessed with an archbishop who joyfully accompanies young people. We are blessed with amazing priests, many of them who travel with their young people to these events. We are blessed with outstanding theology teachers and campus ministers in our Catholic schools. We are blessed with volunteers and youth ministry leaders who pour Christ into our young people.
These adults, and many adults in our parishes, live out these words from Pope Francis: “Young people need to be approached with the grammar of love, not by being preached at. The language that young people understand is spoken by those who radiate life, by those who are there for them and with them. And those who, for all their limitations and weaknesses, try to live their faith with integrity.” (Christus Vivit 211)
Our parishes are investing in our young people through dynamic faith formation and engaging youth ministry programs. Our parishes are building programs where young people can develop into leaders. Our parishes are seeking new ways not only for youth ministry, but also for youth IN ministry.
The Church is challenged to invest in our young people, not solely for her future but most importantly, for their souls and salvation. Youth and young adult ministry seeks to make saints of our young people and their families.
Young people give me hope. Teens involved in our parishes and in our diocesan events are the role models for my young children. I see the young leaders that are in our diocese, and I am full of hope.
St. Paul writes, “We boast in the hope of the glory of God. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:2, 5)
Our ministry to young people, especially the great things that happen in January and February, is a great blessing to my family and me.
It was a lot of steps and a lot of miles, but if one young person discovered their inner saint, if the Kingdom of God was built a little bit more, if I grow closer to God through my encounters with Him and bring others closer to God — it will all be worth it
— Adam Ganucheau is the Director of the Office of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of Mobile. He may be emailed at aganucheau@mobarch.org
Visit our website, www.ArchMobYouth.org Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/ArchMobYouth and follow us on Twitter and Instagram – @ArchMobYouth

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