The Radical Good News of the Gospel: Evangelizing Youth Today
Latham, NY – DENA Lasallians, representing fourteen of the District’s secondary schools gathered in the beautiful countryside of Latham, NY at the Carondelet Hospitality Center for the fifth annual Brother Luke Salm Workshop. This year’s theme drew its inspiration from the District’s Mission Assembly’s Directional Statement on Evangelization and Catechesis:
“There is an urgency today to “set on fire” the Lasallian Catholic evangelical mission within each of our educational communities to do as Jesus did by joyfully announcing the radical Good News that God loves us all and calls us to cooperate in building God’s Kingdom.”
The Office for Mission and Ministry’s invitation to the Workshop was extended to all educators in our secondary school ministries. All Lasallian educators are called to be involved in reaching out to the young men and women entrusted to us and joyfully invite them into a deeper understanding of their faith journey and a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. In a special way our non- Christian students by virtue of attending our schools are in the unique position of coming to know Jesus through the work of the Religion department, Campus Ministry and the lived Gospel witness of the entire adult educational community. What a privileged ministry of Church we Lasallians have been called to participate in!
With the District’s Icon of the Good Shepherd as the backdrop, Brother Dennis Malloy, Visitor, welcomed the participants and invited them to reflect upon their unique call to bring the students into a closer and deeper relationship with Jesus. “This is what we are about–this is what we are uniquely about–to let the young people know that we and they are always within reach of God’s mercy…and that, at any moment in our lives, we can turn to Jesus who is always near.” He encouraged those gathered to continue to “bear witness” offering this quote from the Founder “Earnestly ask Jesus Christ to make his spirit come alive in you since he has chosen you to do this work.”
The keynote speaker for the Workshop, Mr. Frank Mercadante, Executive Director of Cultivation Ministries and a leader in Catholic Youth Ministry for over 30 years presented thought provoking sessions on the Millennial, Cuspers and Homelanders generations and their very unique approaches to faith and Church. Mr. Mercadante, the author of several books, including his latest publication Engaging A New Generation (Our Sunday Visitor) lead the participants through a process of understanding the unique characteristics of the generations that currently sits in our classrooms.
One of the participants reflected–
“My Religion classroom has always been ‘mission territory,’ the Founder reminds us of the place of the classroom in the act of ‘salvation’ but today that ‘mission territory’ has significantly shifted and is offering challenges unlike those of the past. It was enlightening and very helpful to me personally to hear Frank’s presentation on the characteristics of our students. While all are unique individuals there truly are generational characteristics by which we can deepen our understanding of the young people today and that is a tremendous help in our efforts to evangelize and catechize our youth! I feel renewed”
Frank’s clear, challenging and enlightening presentations gave rise to animated conversations as to how, we as Lasallian catechists can best serve as the “Good Shepherds” for today’s youth. Pope Francis speaks of how the shepherd needs to know his/her flock and how the sheep need to know their shepherd. This image of spiritual accompaniment animates our approach to evangelization and catechesis in the Lasallian family for it resonates deeply with the writings of the Founder in his Meditations (Meditation 32) and the prayer of Jesus that “they all may be one.”(JN 12:21)
Throughout the Workshop the participants were engaged in prayerful reflections, the opportunity to share best practices, to receive a presentation regarding the Directional Statements from the 2015 Mission Assembly and to hear a presentation on the upcoming DENA-Catholic Relief Services partnership initiative.
“It seemed that what resonated most significantly with the participants was that young people today are seeking guidance, inspiration and authenticity when it comes to matters of faith. There is a hunger and thirst for community, for an insight into what it means to be loved and accepted unconditionally, to be a part of something ‘bigger than themselves’ and to seek the presence of God in their lives,” reflected Maryann Donohue-Lynch, Workshop coordinator and Associate Executive Director for Mission and Ministry.
The Workshop participants will remain in touch with one another through a Basecamp platform that has been established to offer resources and continue sharing by DENA Religion teachers, Campus Ministers and the Workshop participants. For information regarding the Basecamp or the Brother Luke Salm Workshop please contact Maryann Donohue-Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I’ve really appreciated talking with my colleagues, hearing best practices, gaining insight into what others are doing in their ministries. I am excited to go back to school, share what I have learned and hopefully see ‘seeds sprout’ and things change for the betterment of our school community. I want to set both faculty/staff/administration and students on ‘fire!’” –workshop participant.