Youth Ministry Matters

Lector and EM Training for Teens – May 21-22

Since my arrival in October, I have been busy getting to know people and building relationships. Your presence and support are sincerely appreciated as an integral part of our Oak Park Catholic community.

“Ministry with adolescents helps young people learn what it means to follow Jesus Christ and to live as his disciples today, empowering them to serve others and to work toward a world built on the vision and values of the reign of God.” – from Renewing the Vision (USCCB document).

As we begin a Comprehensive Youth Ministry for the Catholic Parishes in Oak Park, I am working with a team of leaders to develop a vision and mission under the auspices of Spirit and Light. Youth Ministry is the parish community’s response (in our case, the Catholic Community of Oak Park: Ascension and St. Edmund Parish, and St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish and Family Mass Community) to the needs of its young people by responding through Accompaniment and Relationships. To help you understand what comprehensive youth ministry is, consider this: the Comprehensive Model links all the ingredients encompassing a holistic youth ministry with youth. This model broadens the scope of ministry beyond the traditional approach, which often focuses only on youth group programming. The Comprehensive approach emphasizes accompanying youth and going beyond a preconceived framework, encountering young people where they are, adapting to their times and pace of life, and taking them seriously. Multiple program formats with various content are offered in different time formats and settings, with numerous forms of participation based on interests and freedom of choice. This is following what Cardinal Cupich has asked of us in Renew My Church. As we begin, I am taking time to listen to the parish leaders, parents of the youth, and, of course, the youth themselves.

Definition of Catholic Youth Ministry – from Renewing the Vision (USCCB document).

Catholic youth ministry is the response of the Christian Community to the needs of young people and the sharing of the unique gifts of youth with the larger community. Catholic youth ministry is not limited to participation in a particular program or having a youth group; youth ministry is the relationship young people have with the Church.

Three Goals of Catholic Youth Ministry:

  1. Empowerment – to empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today.
  2. Participation – to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community.
  3. Growth – to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person.

I am excited to share with you a developing Adult Youth Ministry Team (included will be the teen’s input) to help create a Mission and Vision for our Oak Park Catholic Youth Ministry. Our mission will consist of creative ways to nurture our young parishioners’ spiritual growth, providing them with a supportive community where they can deepen their faith, build meaningful relationships, and discover their unique gifts and talents. Another goal is to have the Adult Youth Ministry team assist with the various engaging activities offered to the teens.

If you are interested in learning more about our developing Youth Ministry program or would like to get involved as a volunteer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at, or at 708-370-3674. Your participation and support are invaluable as we continue to nurture this and the next generation of faithful disciples.

Thank you for your dedication to our Oak Park Catholic church community and for your prayers for our Youth Ministry.

Cooky Perez-Eraci
Director of Youth Ministry for the Oak Park Catholic Parishes, Spirit and Light: A Catholic Collaborative for Living Faith

St. Catherine – St. Lucy and St. Giles Youth Ministry

St. Giles Parish offers many ways for teens and adults to become involved in our parish and build community with one another. Via the two programs below, check out how you can be a part of our ministry:

CHAOS Teen Group – is a high school ministry program that focuses on forming supportive relationships by community building activities grounded in our Catholic faith. Our goal is to empower our teens to develop their own Catholic identity and develop the skills to be leaders in the St. Giles parish community and for their future communities as young adults. CHAOS meets weekly for a teen night on Thursdays at 7:30pm, in the Alley (the youth room on the back side of the pastoral center). Each gathering involves faith, fellowship, and fun. All high school teens (incoming 9th-outgoing 12th grade) are welcome to join us for our weekly gatherings and any of our special/seasonal events.

Appalachian Service Project (ASP) – is a high school ministry program with the goal of empowering high school students to grow in faith and fellowship as they work together to serve the people in Appalachia and bring the richness of their experience back to share with our parish community. This is a week-long mission trip during the summer with a formation and fundraising program throughout the year, prior to the trip. Sign-ups and required meetings begin in the fall of each year.

Adult Support for Youth Ministry Research into the lives of young people consistently shows that connecting young people to even just one additional trusted adult can reduce their feelings of loneliness, isolation, and stress. Beyond that, if a young person is accompanied by 5+ trusted adults, it significantly reduces those negative feelings and increases levels of happiness, development of good habits, and retention of positive life skills. There are many ways to support the young people in your community and we can help you find the best way for you to do so. These can include contributions of time, resources, and finances. Please contact our Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry to discuss how you can offer your support so that we can have an intentional conversation about your own desires and the needs of the community.

Please see the links to the right for more complete descriptions of these programs and the ways to get involved!