By Katrina Genereux/Associate Editor, OND
On Jan. 26, the Office of Formation in Discipleship will host a workshop featuring Everett Fritz at St. Mary, Fosston, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The workshop is open to youth ministers, catechists, priests, parents, volunteers and anyone who works with youth. The cost to attend is $10 and will be collected at the event. Registration is available at www.crookston.org/everett. Lunch is included.
Fritz is author of The Art of Forming Young Disciples and founder of St. Andrew Missionaries, an organization dedicated to training and equipping Catholics in discipleship of young people.
“About 79 percent of people who identify as ‘not affiliated’ left the Church by the age of 23,” Fritz said.
He noted this trend has continued even with churches investing more in youth formation.
Fritz has worked in youth ministry for 12 years. Five years into his career he was successful at running large youth programs. Despite his apparent success, most youth he worked with still left the Church. Only 10 out of 100 teens he brought to a Steubenville conference were practicing their faith three years later.
“These kids were all engaged in youth group, in youth ministry, but it wasn’t enough to have kids going through a program or in a large environment,” Fritz said. He realized the 10 who were still practicing were those he had the closest relationship with. “I did Bible study with them, I mentored their prayer lives, I knew their families well, I spent the majority of my relational ministry time with those teens. Those were the ones who went on to flourish in their faith, not only practice, but are really engaged, devout Catholics.”
This realization led him to focus on creating small groups who build relationships by meeting regularly for prayer and fellowship.
“We have at this point an 80 percent success rate of those who continue to practice their faith into college and their adult life,” Fritz said.
Bob Noel, Formator for the Office of Formation in Discipleship said last year youth ministers and directors of religious education throughout the diocese were given a copy of Fritz’s book.
According to Noel, it was well received. It was decided to offer the workshop and open it to anyone who is involved with young people.
“We felt it would be a good fit for our diocese to really empower youth ministers and pastors, volunteers and catechists to equip them with mentoring skills as they minister to young people,” Noel said. “I hope anyone who works with young people or is curious about how to minister to young people would make the trip to Fosston that day.”
Fritz said the goal of the workshop is to evaluate the effectiveness of ministries and whether they are forming lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ and to advocate for best practices. He will focus on engaging parents in the process, and the role of small groups and mentors.
“A lot of parents are frustrated with their church’s efforts as far as providing ministry for their kids. I talk to a lot of youth ministers who are frustrated with how to get parents engaged and we should put these two groups together because they can work together,” Fritz said.
He hopes anyone concerned about the loss of young people in the Church who wants to be part of the solution will attend.