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Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults If not now, when? Eleventh Annual ICCUSA Conference April 26-28, 2013 Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Presentation on theme: "Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults If not now, when? Eleventh Annual ICCUSA Conference April 26-28, 2013 Raleigh, North Carolina."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults If not now, when? Eleventh Annual ICCUSA Conference April 26-28, 2013 Raleigh, North Carolina Sr. Joanna Okereke, HHCJ Program Coordinator, Cultural Diversity in the Church/USCCB

2 Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults MISSION The Igbo Catholic Community USA (ICCUSA) is a Catholic, faith-based, national organization operating with local chapters. Under diocesan guidelines, we serve the pastoral needs and promote the religious and cultural heritage of our people. We also aim to coordinate all the local chapters, and provide a working relationship with the American Catholic Bishops’ Conference and with various other ethnic communities.

3 Igbo Catholic Community USA Igbo Catholic Young Adults Local chapters Atlanta, GA Baltimore, MD Boston, MA Brooklyn, NY Chicago, IL Hayward, CA Houston, TX Los Angeles, CA Newark, NJ Philadelphia, PA Raleigh, NC San Francisco, CA San Jose, CA, Sacramento, CA Washington, DC Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

4 Statistical Survey on Religion in America One in five Americans does not have a religion – they identify as unaffiliated. The fastest growing religious group in America is made up of people with no religion at all. The number of these Americans has grown by 25% in the past five years. The group of the unaffiliated is growing faster among young Americans. 68% of the religiously unaffiliated say they believe in God, while 37% describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious”

5 Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults Statistical Survey on Religion in America The growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been among people who are 18 to 29 years of old; they identify as atheist or agnostic(far greater than the number who identified as Christians (18%) or Catholics (18%). 34% of the younger generation (those born between 1990 and 1994) are religiously unaffiliated. The Christian Faith is weakened through secularization; People are no longer invigorated by the faith. There is no zeal. There is no question that Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults is timely. Looking at the survey you can see there is trouble and something must be done.

6 Igbo Catholic Community- USA The future of the Igbo Catholic communities depends on an aggressive approach towards reaching the young adults with the gospel. The Newspaper headlines repeatedly show that we are losing the younger generation. We must have a relevant, cutting-edge ministry with younger adults that will make inroads into their lives and impact their environments.

7 Today, Africans are increasingly becoming a visible part of the population living in the in the United States, and are finding meaningful ways to integrate into the society. However, there are significant cultural differences among the first and second generation. For those born in the United States, there is pressure of identity. This comes with the understanding of being American, black American, and how this makes up their ethnic identities. Different forms of social structure influence how the youth form their identity. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

8 How? They look for a community that welcomes them and gives them a sense of belonging. They accept a religion which helps them to understand life, with all its joys and sorrows. They want a faith that makes sense in their modern world, and in doing so, provides direction and meaning. They struggle with how to balance the pressure of family expectations. Many a time you see the youth react to the expectations of their parents and elders. Sometimes the young adults perceive religion as being a set of harsh, abstract, unnecessary rules and using boring rituals. For Igbos to be effective in ‘passing on the faith’, we must first respond to these observations and needs. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

9 The way adults practice their religion is important. It's important to participate in Sunday Mass and to be involved in the community. When you show your children that your religion is an important part of your life, they follow. More so, the best way of highlighting the importance of religion is to see how it influences our lifestyle choices and how we handle conflicts and relationships. It is important to note that what the youth do is influenced greatly by the way their parents practice their faith. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

10 Igbo Catholic Community - USA What To Do Knock on doors – visit homes and tell them about you and what you do. Canvass – be creative! How do you relate to younger generation Igbo Catholics? Do you know their stories? Do you value their stories? (Knowing their stories gives them a sense of identity. Keep them connected to their origin Plan family retreats/gatherings. Bring new methods, new enthusiasm, new expressions of the faith Re-ignite the faith of those who have grown cold or those who have fallen away.

11 Growing up in Nigeria, it is not uncommon to find young adults taking care of their younger siblings and elder parents, assisting parents on the farm, helping in cook and washing dishes, and selling goods in the market. Also, Nigerians commonly go to morning Mass, benediction, and choir practice and attending various pious organizations. The question today is, are you providing the younger generation with these opportunities? It is important to know that times have certainly changed and the culture is evolving faster than ever before. Facebook and Twitter are an example. We should not be afraid of change. There is a cyber-generation among our youth that is growing. We will completely lose them if we don’t make a conscience effort to step out of our comfort zone and reach out to the young adults before they disappear. Let’s not miss the opportunity to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the young adults and meet them where they are. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

12 On May 5, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the US bishops on faith formation of the next generation of Catholics in the United States. He said: “It is no exaggeration to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country.” Therefore, it becomes important to mention that the structure of the Igbo Catholic community is a major determinant of the young adult’s adaptation and integration. In essence, you encourage the Igbo Catholic community to enable the Igbo Catholic young adults to adapt and to fulfill their aspirations. In this regard, our values, norms, culture and customs must be embraced. For us Igbos, we attribute our success to education, strong religious values, and a strong extended family system. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

13 The future of the Igbo Catholic church depends on an aggressive approach in reaching the young adults with the gospel. Newspaper headlines repeatedly show that we are losing the younger generation. You must have a relevant, cutting-edge ministry with younger adults that will make inroads into their lives and impact their environments. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

14 CAPTURE THEIR ATTENTION: Every young adult wants to know about God. But in today's world, to connect with God, the message has to be communicated in a way that will capture both their attention and their heart. The ministry can't look, feel or sound like the ministry of the past. The world has changed and the Igbo Catholic church's ministry to our children will also change. By useing today's technology and creativity to connect today's children with the gospel. Unfortunately, we plan programs before examining the needs of the young adults. Your activities and ministry need to be re-evaluated to see if they are reaching today's youth and young adults. This means using multimedia; creative teaching styles; materials and resources that facilitate their hearing and remembering the gospel's truth. You must define their needs! You must know what your young adults face! What stimulates their attention? What draws them to or repels them from the gospel? These facts establish the foundation for the programs and ministries that are needed. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

15 You have to lay a good foundation for the young adults to utilize to impact the world. Missions: Are you eager to teach how to impact their schools and neighborhoods? There are resources/programs, conferences and volunteers services that can assist in teaching. Worship: Guide them to learn and to be sensitive to the Lord's presence. Prayer: Teach them to pray and develop an intimacy with God. Giving: Show them the joy of giving. Ministry: Developing their leadership skills, launching young adult ministries and working alongside adults as teachers and mentors. Form young adult ministries with the purpose to help them grow personally & spiritually. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

16 Make the young adults part of the congregation, establish their vision, support their activities, equip, train and empower them. Provide them with the right tools and resources. Create an environment that draws them. Encourage, support, love, value and reinforce their efforts. Train them to reach out and embrace their gifts, develop and grow in faith. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

17 Youth Ministry seeks to help youth share their gifts, develop a positive self-image, overcome prejudices, develop respect for differences, serve those in need, foster social change, participate in the sacraments, develop a personal spirituality and prayer life, apply Catholic faith to daily life, integrate Catholic values, participate in the Church, and develop a personal relationship with Jesus. The U.S. Bishops in the 1997 document, "Renewing the Vision" reflects the following goals †To empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today. †To draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community. †To foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person. In order to achieve these goals, the Igbo Catholic Communities need to find ways to help young people use their talents in the community. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

18 Some ways to get young adults involved in the community: 1. Give young people responsibility: Allowing young people to run groups themselves will make them feel valued and respected in the community. 2. Trust them: The gift of trust will inspire a young person to commit to a job and follow through with it. 3. Implement a program that transforms participants into leaders. Our youth and young adults need to be given a goal to aspire to. 4. Reach out to high schools: Getting the word out as to how young people can be involved is important. 5. Ask individuals to serve in the ministry: Inviting a young person to engage in parish activities transforms a bystander into a participant. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

19 Plan a retreat for the youth and young adults, and encourage parents in their role as spiritual guides. Reinvigorate your ministries and organizations as small faith communities and explore ways to redirect their energies toward support for the faith. Use new technology for communication and invitations. Organize mission trips. Plan activities such as cleaning a park, a car wash, or spend time in prayer and worship. Each chapter should identify leaders and use them as mentors and positive role models for Igbo youth and young adults. Create opportunities for the family to pray, work, and read the bible together. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

20 Consider activities that centers on the following: 1) Advocacy: Allows the voices of young people to be honored and heard in the Church. 2) Catechesis: Help increase the knowledge of the core content of the Catholic Faith. 3) Community Life: Build an environment of love, support and appreciation that model Catholic principles. 4) Evangelization: Shares the good news of the reign of God and invites young people into a deeper relationship with Christ. 5) Justice and Service: Empowers young people to a life of justice and service by taking steps which address the causes of human suffering. 6) Leadership Development: Call forth, affirms and empower the diverse gifts, talents and abilities of young people. 7) Pastoral Care: Nurture growth toward wholeness, provide guidance in decision making and challenge obstacles to positive development. 8) Prayer and Worship: Celebrate and deepen young people’s relationship with Jesus Christ through the bestowal of grace, communal prayer and liturgical experiences. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

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24 Recommendations to assist Igbo Catholics reach out to the next generation of Igbo Catholic Young Adults Help Igbo young adults feel a valued part of the Igbo Catholic Community. Provide an environment where young adults can develop meaningful relationships with their peers and adult leaders. Help young people develop a deeper appreciation of the meaning of Jesus in their lives. Find meaningful ways to help young people develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Help Igbo Catholic young adults develop a better understanding of the Bible and what it means to us today. Assist Igbo Catholic young adults in developing an appreciation for what is unique about the Catholic faith. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

25 Recommendations to assist Igbo Catholics reach out to the next generation of Igbo Catholic Young Adults Teach Igbo Catholic young adults how to make moral decisions based on Catholic values. Provide Igbo Catholic young adults with guidance as they face personal, spiritual, and vocational decisions. Provide appropriate support and guidance for Igbo Catholic young adults during times of stress and crisis. Try to involve Igbo Catholic young adults in reaching out to serve the needy in the community. Provide Igbo Catholic young adults with spiritual growth through liturgies and prayer experiences. Teach them to pray. Involve them in leadership. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

26 Recommendations to assist Igbo Catholics reach out to the next generation of Igbo Catholic Young Adults, Foster healing and reconciliation in Igbo Catholic young adults lives and relationships. Help them develop a better understanding of their parents and to learn how to communicate better with them. Create opportunities to share experiences, information and the Igbo heritage with your children. Each family/local chapter should develop mechanisms to utilize Igbo language, skills and experiences. Develop programs and activities that will engage the youth and young adults in discussions and involve them in planning and implementing community-related projects, events and programs. Reaching Out to the Next Generation: Igbo Catholic Young Adults

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