Ministry to Catholic young adults in the military falls under the guidance and involvement of the Catholic Chaplain. His collaboration with Catholic young adults, the command religious program, area chaplains, and ministry leaders serves to assess the pastoral needs.
Who are young adults?
Young adults are persons in their late teens, twenties, and thirties who represent diverse cultural, racial, ethnic, educational, vocational, social, political, and spiritual backgrounds. They are college students, workers, and professionals; they are persons in military service; they are single, married, divorced, or widowed; they are with or without children; they are newcomers in search of a better life.
The Catholic bishops of the United States are currently working on developing and drafting a new framework as a response to “Christus Vivit” and to cast a renewed vision for local implementation of a synodal, accompanying, and engaging Church in relation to youth and young adults. More details will be forthcoming.
The USCCB document Sons and Daughters of the Light expresses four goals for a comprehensive outreach to young adults:
- To connect young adults with Jesus Christ through spiritual formation/direction, religious education/formation, and vocation discernment
- To connect young adults with the Church through evangelizing outreach, formation of the faith community, and pastoral care
- To connect young adults with the mission of the Church in the world through forming a Christian conscience, educating and working for justice, and developing leaders for the present and the future
- To connect young adults with a peer community through developing peer leadership and identifying a young adult team for the purpose of forming faith communities of peers.
There are more than 300,000 Catholic young adults serving in all branches of the armed forces. Active-duty young adult leaders have articulated that effective young adult ministry fosters a culture of going out to the young adults to invite them in. It encourages mentoring and prayer and focuses on lay leader training and the basics of the faith (ex: YOUCAT, online Catholic faith challenges, etc.).
Young adult ministry leaders should work to translate the Gospel to answer basic questions such as “Why go to Church?”, “Why get married in the Church?”, and “How does the Church help me answer life’s questions?” They should promote activities that help young adults get off the installation such as pilgrimages, tours, etc. Many times it is helpful to increase use of social media, specifically to be present on cell phones. Ministry leaders should always continue to consult with young adults to both seek and share insights.