Two of the freshest, greenest shoots growing out of RENEW International’s ministry stem from our outreach to young adults, ranging in age from 18-year-old college freshmen to 39-year old young married professionals, to everyone in between. In this exciting time and space, the seeds of a mature adult faith are planted and nurtured among a group critical to the vitality of the Church.
Campus RENEW reached a milestone this year—the first colleges and universities that we started with have now completed all five semesters of the Campus RENEW process and have committed to continuing small Christian communities on their own.
Campus RENEW also created expanded, permanent editions of The Word on Campus—the faith-sharing resource for students. Students now have resources for most weeks of the school year, beginning in the middle of August and ending with the Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (in June), including the seasons of Lent and Easter. Thus, any campus, no matter its schedule, will be able to use The Word on Campus for small Christian communities throughout the school year. The Word on Campus is available on our website www.renewintl.org/store and through our catalog for any college campus ministry that is interested, not just to our member campuses.
With growing interest from on new colleges and universities, Campus RENEW is fast becoming the premier campus ministry program for those wishing to create small Christian communities and do specific outreach on campus. The Campus team continues to present workshops at National Conferences, including the Notre Dame Symposium for Campus Ministers, and to be members of the team for national institutes, including the Frank J. Lewis Institute for New Campus Ministers.
Good News Story
The Campus RENEW process builds the bonds of community and mutual support, a welcome fact for many young people away from home and family for the first time. One of the special features is the small community “covenant” that students are encouraged to write and sign as members of a Campus RENEW group. In writing the covenant, members express their hopes and dreams for the group’s experience. By signing the document, they commit to themselves and each other that they will support the group’s spiritual journey.
To what are they committing? Day-to-day items make the list, like making time to meet each week, emailing if they cannot attend, being open and respectful of each other, praying for each others’ needs, even attending Mass as a group. But these young people make some truly special and remarkable commitments as well. Here are samples in their own words:
||Encourage each other to demonstrate faith through actions performed in our daily life
||Morality: Confronting each other, for each other
||Come together to meditate and pray the Rosary
||Strive, to the best of our ability, to model ourselves after Christ by reading his Word
||Spread the Word of God to others as we draw near to Him
||Do one service project a month together in an effort to spread Jesus’ message of peace
With names like the God-sighters, Vestigia Dei, Followers of Faustina, Amigas de Jesus, and the Mustard Seeds, these groups of college students are truly challenging themselves to be Christ’s disciples.
Theology on Tap
We have successfully implemented various efforts to enhance service to our existing Theology on Tap programs. Most notably, a total revision of the Theology on Tap Manual was completed to edit and improve content and to strengthen the focus on our new parish-based efforts. The improved Theology on Tap Manual was sent electronically to all our current users, and has been met with rave reviews. Responding to numerous requests, we developed a suggested curriculum for Theology on Tap, with young adult-relevant speaker and event topics. This curriculum not only supplies them with helpful ideas for planning a series of discussions, but also presents a comprehensive overview of the Catholic faith, rooted in the General Directory of Catechesis.
Both our website and our web-based library have been updated, and our current users now receive periodic electronic newsletters which detail our work and the services we offer. In addition, we sent out a survey to our current users that supplied us with more information as to how to better serve our current programs.
We have made a strong effort to help those who wish to begin Theology on Tap programs in their area, adding over fifty parish and diocesan programs during the past year. The new 2008 Manual and the curriculum outline have provided new users with a solid foundation on which to build a young adult ministry program, and we continue our pastoring support, encouraging and helping our users build successful programs.
The most exciting and ambitious accomplishment of this past year has been the creation and successful piloting of the Theology on Tap Comprehensive Young Adult Ministry Process. Building on the wisdom gathered from successful young adult ministry leaders across the country, Theology on Tap events are being incorporated into a comprehensive process that seeks to jump start young adult ministry at the parish or diocesan level. This process takes place over the course of about six months and involves three workshops on young adult outreach, as well as ongoing pastoring.
One of the most effective parts of our process is giving young adult leaders experience with faith sharing as they plan and organize Theology on Tap events. A specially-developed resource called A Little Leaven… outlines six meetings, beginning with prayer and faith sharing and ending with the doling out of tasks that establish a local Theology on Tap series.
The new process has been piloted in four locations across the country: Reno, NV, West Lafayette, IN, the diocese of Charlotte, NC, and Westfield, NJ. The pilots have been resounding successes, galvanizing young adults through faith sharing, creating successful Theology on Tap events, and empowering young adults to develop and implement follow-up activities, setting the stage for a sustainable young adult ministry program in these areas.
Campus RENEW continues to spread around the country—and during the coming year to universities in Venezuela. We are concentrating on adding colleges and universities in areas of the country where we are already serving or in finding places where a number of campuses in close proximity are interested in offering small Christian communities to their students. Campuses in the Midwest and Mid-South show much promise. In the coming year, new campuses will begin utilizing the Campus RENEW process for the first time in New England, in and around the Archdiocese of Boston, in conjunction with our new ARISE Together in Christ process. Word continues to spread about the successes of Campus RENEW at colleges and universities large and small, Catholic and public.
Theology on Tap
While we will continue to enhance services to our current users and work closely with those interested in beginning a Theology on Tap program, our main focus this year will be successfully marketing and selling our Theology on Tap Comprehensive Young Adult Ministry Process to interested parishes and dioceses throughout the country. Through our pilots, we have learned a great deal about successful young adult ministry, and look forward to applying these learnings with other interested groups.
Another focus will be on faith-sharing resources. An intrinsic part of our comprehensive process is strong follow-up opportunities, including small faith-sharing communities. Seeing great demand for a young adult-directed Lectionary resource, we will expand our young adult faith-sharing publication, Word on the Go, beyond Lent and Advent, making it available year-round in individual sessions via the web. Having faith-sharing sessions for every Sunday during the year will accommodate all interested groups, regardless of when they choose to faith share.
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