A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults

In the fall of 1993, following Pope John Paul II’s trip to Denver for World Youth Day, the Catholic Bishops of the United States decided to write a plan for young adult ministry. As a distinct ministry in the church, young adult ministry had existed for no more than 20 years, and this was the first time the bishops had specifically addressed this area. The development of the pastoral plan took three years and was overseen by the Bishops’ Committee on the Laity. During the development process the Committee held listening sessions with young adults and young adult ministers, consulted with groups involved in this ministry, and conducted a survey of diocesan offices. The final product incorporates the best and most up-to-date thinking about young adult ministry. Sons and Daughters of the Light was approved unanimously by the bishops in November, 1996.

A Message to Young Adults

While most of the plan is addressed to those who work with young adults (who may include young adults), the bishops’ message is addressed to all young adults. The bishops begin by apologizing for the times when the church has failed to extend hospitality to young adults and they promise greater efforts to welcome young adults into church life. The message anticipates the theme of the plan: connecting with young adults. It also sets up a dialogue, stressing that the church has something to offer to young adults, while young adults have much to give to the church. The introduction of the “voices” of young adults further emphasizes the importance of dialogue.

Goals and Objectives for Ministry with Young Adults

The plan sets out four goals for young adult ministry. Each goal has three objectives and is followed by specific, practical strategies.

Goal One: To connect young adults with Jesus Christ

Objectives: Spiritual formation and direction based on personal relationship with Jesus; religious education and formation to help young adults appreciate the Church’s teachings and traditions; vocation discernment.

Goal Two: To connect young adults with the Church

Objectives: Evangelizing outreach where young adults gather; forming the faith community by inviting young adults to participate in Church life; pastoral care that responds to the spiritual and developmental needs of young adults.

Goal Three: To connect young adults with the mission of the Church in the world

Objectives: Conscience formation based on the Gospel and on Church teaching; providing educational and service opportunities to practice gospel values; developing leaders for society and church life.

Goal Four: To connect young adults with a peer community

Objectives: To form faith communities of peers; to develop peer leadership; to identify young adult teams in parishes and organizations and on campus.

Sons and Daughters of the Light is available in the Office of Young Adults and Campus Ministries, and is also available on-line at the official site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by clicking here.