Sunday, June 24, 2012

Engaging a New Generation: A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens @CatholicCompany

Engaging a New Generation

Engaging a New Generation:  A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens
  • Written by Frank Mercadante
  • Published by Our Sunday Visitor
  • Released May 31, 2012
  • 176 Page Paperback Volume 
  • English Language
  • Suggested Retail Price - $19.99
  • Available for Purchase Through the Catholic Company
Growing up Catholic was very different 25 years ago.  I enjoyed youth groups and retreats, and Blessed John Paul II was my Pope.  He had such a heart for young people that I couldn't help but be drawn to him!  I was part of a CYA group which organized dances, trips, and other fun activities.

Sadly, 25 years later, most youth programs in America seem to be rather anemic.  is there a secret formula that parishes with thriving and active teen communities have discovered?

As a mother of young boys, and an eighth grade CCD teacher, this is a topic dear to my heart.  I was very interested in this book as soon as I saw it had been released.

The author, Frank Mercadante has been working with young people for many years.  Through teaching, writing, and sharing what has worked for him, he has been a huge asset for those who work with our teens.  His work has been recognized and awarded.

Here is what this book does,  from the foreword and straight through to the last page.
  1. Point out the ways in which our culture is shifting.
  2. Illustrate the ways it has hindered our youth ministry. 
  3. Show us the wonderful assets our teens possess. 
  4. Provide strategies for working with these young people.
Hopefully, we can reverse the unfortunate trend that seems to be happening with more and more families - what he calls the "elephant in the sanctuary."  Babies are born and baptized, but don't return to the pews until they are preparing for their First Holy Communion.  After their big day, they disappear again until it is time for Confirmation.  They go through the motions, but many view Confirmation almost like a graduation.  We don't see them again until they marry, or have children of their own to baptize.  Either we haven't properly taught them what Confirmation is, or, we haven't taught them convincingly.

So, what can we do?  The Roman Catholic Church doesn't quite lend itself to the currently popular method of worship.  I hope I never see consecration that is accompanied by a rock and roll musical performance and high definition slide shows.  I much prefer the solemnity of our sacred traditions, the Grace provided through our Sacraments, and of course, and especially - the Mass and The Holy Eucharist.  What could be more awe inspiring?

Luckily, it turns out that most teens are not looking for bells and whistles, their needs are deeper.  They want clarity, authenticity, and role models who not only teach, but live and lead by example.

This is quite doable.  Read and learn how your team can work together to decide upon a mission and then work to achieve it.  There are tips on how to remain focused and organized.  A clear plan must be made utilizing a leadership who work together to achieve a common goal.

You will also see how to put it all in writing and decide upon which measurable outcomes can be used to evaluate what is working well and what isn't.

By using stories from his own life and the news, biblical tie ins, research data, and Catholic doctrine, this much better way to reach the Millennial Generation is presented.  Each chapter has offset text with valuable information as well as lists of things to consider.

I think this book is a great read for all of us who work with the teens in our parishes.  It can help us all to find better ways to connect with these kids who long for integrity and truth.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Engaging a New Generation. This is also a great online Catholic store for all your religious shopping needs, such as gifts for Confirmation and gifts for a baby baptism.