Blog/Community

Bring it On, New Normal: Relational Ministry is Here to Stay

Looking out my window, I would see thick clouds slowly moving across the sky, covering and revealing the sun. Down below was the East River competing for my attention, with its twinkling current moving towards one direction. At the forefront, trees were teasing me as they swayed against the dazzling sun and its piercing rays, calling me to walk on the empty streets, but there sat fear of COVID-19 in the throne of my heart, hindering me from stepping out. During the peak of the pandemic, with a mask on as her main weapon against COVID-19, Trish Vega would brave the streets of New York, walking from West to East Village once a week, just to check on me and teach me the four habits of discipleship. Knowing how terrified and uncomfortable I was to meet her halfway outside back then, Trish suggested that she head over to me instead. She was unstoppable. Embodying Christ, Trish did not let disease nor the restrictions of the pandemic stop her from proclaiming the Word of God and disciple-making. Now that’s what I call dedication!

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The Power of Friendship

In addition to following safety protocols, Trish proved that faith is the best armor to wear and share! By investing so much of herself in my daily life, she offered not only fellowship but passed on acts of charity and generosity. She showed me patience, courage, and peace during what felt like an eternity of uncertainty with only dark times ahead. Her example struck a chord in me to the extent that one day, when asked to attend Mass with her, instead of being paralyzed by fear and rejecting the idea, I blurted out a big “yes”! Trish drew me closer to Christ, strengthened my faith through friendship, and replaced fear with gratitude in my heart. #thankfulgratefulblessed

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Now more than ever, we need proactive youth ministers like her to continue their mission of teaching and healing others offline. After all, “iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wit of another” (Proverbs 27:17).

How to Call Youth Back

Isn’t there something special about shared laughter, empathetic gazes, bear hugs, and friends showing up at your front door with takeout in one hand and Bible study materials in the other?! Authentic friendships bloom best in person as Trish illustrated!
All it takes is stepping out of your home and bringing your Bible, Catechism notes, a picnic blanket or yoga mat, food, and the lesson of the day to your student’s place or any other meeting spot. Remember: if they can’t meet you, you can always meet them!

What’s Next?

Here are some action steps that youth ministers can take when planning out future in-person sessions:

  1. Be open to tangents and scrapping your original lesson plan. Depending on the flow and intensity of the conversation with your teen, point to Scripture, and meditate on a verse or passage that is more timely and relevant to whatever your teen is going through. Apply Lectio Divina here!
  2. Encourage your teens to enhance his or her personal prayer space with religious art and relics.
  3. Look into wellness programs such as meditation and muscle relaxation exercises that you can do with your pupils in either their place, yours, or an agreed-upon outdoor area.
  4. Host and lead your own Bible study group in your place or an outdoor area. Study and discuss the Sunday homily together each week. Search YouTube Summit Videos or Summit groups to get you started. Bonus: reward yourselves with ice cream after!
  5. Refer to Life Teen’s Catholic youth ministry materials for inspiration and guidance: training videos, retreats to sign up for, training videos, and informative blogs that focus on the issues that teens face today and the practical application of faith.

Lastly, here is a friendly reminder: it’s one thing to live in risk with compassion and intention, and another to live carelessly. Please make sure to practice safety measures whenever you meet your teens outside or have them over. Health is wealth!

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Photo by he zhu on Unsplash

About the Author

Kate Cabigao

Kate Cabigao is a recent graduate of NYU Steinhardt’s Education Studies program. She loves to write about her experiences ranging from the silliest to the most serious moments. Her life goal is to inspire those around her to make the most of their lives and play to their strengths.

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