“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We start with listening. We listen to God. We listen to each other, our brothers and sisters in God’s family, and believers across this country and around the world. When we listen, we quickly learn that the work is too big for us to do alone. We need God’s Spirit and each other.
Earlier this year, when it became clear that COVID-19 would change how we meet, Alpha’s first response was to lean in and listen to what our network of churches needed.
As part of this process two members of our national team—Josh Danis, director of Alpha Catholic Context, and Jordan Biere, Alpha’s national youth director—went on a “listening tour” and reached out to archdioceses nationwide in an effort to support Catholic youth ministers during the pandemic.
What they learned created an urgency to better resource youth workers everywhere in this moment of great isolation.
Youth ministers are busier than ever caring for and supporting their communities at a time when their tweens and teens are hurting and scared. Highly anticipated opportunities for connection like summer camps and retreats have been canceled in many places. Youth ministries are seeking out new and creative ways to build community and offer teens a safe place to discuss life and faith in an ever-changing culture.
All of these insights led Josh and Jordan to Project YM, a group that drives resources to Catholic Youth Ministries and has an incredible track record of reaching more than 10,000 students, 40+ diocese, and 2,800+ parishes through online youth events in the early days of social distancing.
During this time, pastors, lay leaders, and volunteers do not need one more thing added to their list of responsibilities; they desperately need someone to carry the burden with them, resourcing them, so they can focus on loving their people well. That’s why Alpha is partnering with Project YM to help.
During the summer months, Alpha and Project YM will bring faith conversations to youth nationwide in a completely different way than we would have ever imagined. This partnership creates the space for Catholic youth ministries to offer the Alpha Youth Series throughout the U.S., four times a week all summer long. This initiative began just last week, on June 14, with 300 parishes committing to join representing the potential of reaching thousands of teens.
Alpha, along with Project YM, want to pour into leaders so they can spend their time pouring into young people. The hope is that Alpha will provide Online training to youth ministers so that the elements that make Alpha so unique continue to come across even when Alpha is being experienced online.
Gary Roney, Director of Youth and Young Adult Engagement, Diocese of Pittsburgh, shared his experience with the initiative: “First of all, the training with Jordan was fantastic! I applaud any strategic partnership that aims to reach young people. Many youth pastors/ministers are overwhelmed and in need of resources and support. Creative partnerships can help provide them with what they need in order to reach the unchurched or those far outside the faith. It’s also a way to empower those within the Church to reach out to their peers.”
Last year, 300 Catholic churches ran Alpha Youth. We believe this initiative could double or even triple that number. When people come together, listen, and get creative, amazing things can happen for the kingdom of God.
We are so excited about this partnership and grateful for the opportunity to see what God will do through this work! It is our prayer that teens all around the U.S., would experience God’s presence, feel seen and heard, and connect deeply with each other and with mentors who will walk beside them on their faith journey for years to come.
Would you like to get involved in this new initiative? Contact us!