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Youth ministry leaders ‘break open’ a better vision for discipleship

Tony Vasinda and Michael Marchand of ProjectYM speak to participants at Christ the King Parish in Madisonville on August 10, 2019. COURTESY OF CHARLIE HARDESTY


On Aug. 10, approximately 60 directors of religious education, youth ministry leaders, Catholic school educators, catechists and volunteers gathered at Christ the King Parish in Madisonville for a day of formation.

The day was led by Tony Vasinda and Michael Marchand of ProjectYM, an initiative created to help Catholic youth ministers thrive in their ministries.

Charlie Hardesty, the Diocese of Owensboro’s youth ministry director, said two themes emerged throughout the formation day.

“First, you can’t give what you don’t have, and second, this generation of young people will need a different approach in evangelization, accompaniment, and discipleship,” said Hardesty.

Hardesty said Vasinda spent the morning helping participants reflect on the need, as ministry leaders, “to be in relationship with Jesus Christ ourselves and in a place of personal, ongoing discipleship.”

“During that conversation, we discussed the wounds that exist in our lives and our need for healing,” said Hardesty.

He said the morning felt like a “rejuvenating retreat experience” geared toward renewing the ministry leader.

“In the afternoon, Michael (Marchand) provided a glimpse into the life of Generation Z – the current group of young people we are serving – and how they differ from all previous generations,” said Hardesty.

Marchand’s information came primarily from a recent study by Barna Group, which conducts studies on faith, culture and generational trends.

This Barna study in particular had looked into Generation Z and their experience of life and religion.

“From there, we broke open a better vision for discipleship,” said Hardesty.

He said this revolved around intentional small group communities focused on evangelizing, accompanying, and guiding young people into a life of following Jesus. 

“For me, the challenge of the day was to first of all, as a ministry leader, stay connected and growing with Jesus,” said Hardesty. “And then, walk with a small group of young people in a discipline relationship similar to how Jesus modeled with the apostles.”

Originally printed in the September 2019 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

Copyright © 2019 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic

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