By Ann Marie Foley - 04 March, 2014
The Diocese of Kerry has just received a major boost following 28 volunteers’ completion of its first ever Youth Ministry Studies Programme.
The group of adults, from parishes all over Kerry, spent almost two years studying for the programme, which involved some travelling for up to two hours to get to the venue.
The course was facilitated by the Redemptorist Youth Ministry Team and accredited by St Mary’s University College, Queen’s University, Belfast.
“Fr Noel Kehoe, who was the Redemptorist co-ordinator, is also co-ordinator of Scala in Cork which is a youth ministry, so he has experience of working on the ground,” explained Bernie McCaffrey of Kerry’s Diocesan Pastoral Council.
“The team of people delivering that course all have practical, on-the-ground experience, both lay people and religious,” she added.
Bishop Ray Browne presented certificates to those who had completed the course.
Bernie McCaffrey told Catholicireland.net that the Bishop acknowledged their commitment in doing the course and being involved in the parishes among young people.
The Bishop of Kerry also spoke of how he has had the opportunity to meet young people as they prepare for and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and how important it is to be able to offer them youth ministry facilities and services.
Many of the volunteers are already involved in parish youth ministry with, for example, youth choirs.
One parish has developed a youth council and its members are actively involved in justice issues, as well as feeding young people’s views into the parish pastoral council.
Another project helps young people transition from primary to secondary education and ensures their faith needs are met in their new second level environment.
At the awarding of the certificates event last week, two youth ministry projects were presented by the young people themselves and they spoke of what it means to them.
One group was the Castlegregory Youth Council and the other was from two parishes in Tralee – St Brendan’s and St John’s.
“They did an Advent project around the Jesse tree based on scripture using symbols. They made the symbols and gave an input to the congregation about their meaning,” Bernie McCaffrey explained.
The other speakers on the awards night was Fr Ger Godley, who co-ordinates pastoral development in the diocese, and Fr Noel Kehoe who co-ordinated the course.
The two-year course in Youth Ministry aimed to equip voluntary and professional leaders with the knowledge, skills, practical tools and techniques needed for creative and comprehensive ministry with young people in parish, school, college, diocesan and other settings.
According to the organisers, the course also nurtured the personal and spiritual growth of these leaders for ministry.
They learned that youth Ministry is more than programmes and youth events, rather it is the presence of caring, supportive relationships where young people experience the Good News.
They hope to be part of enabling young people to make a real difference in Church, society and the world at large.