Forty Years of Partnership with Ministry Leaders
At a recent gathering of the board and staff for the Center for Ministry Development, leaders were sharing stories of their first contacts with CMD. My story begins in 1986 when I began work as a Consultant for Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Sister Edith Prendergast, who was the Director of Youth Ministry at the time, had arranged to bring the Center's youth leadership program, the Christian Leadership Institute (CLI), to our archdiocese, and she asked me to organize it. In December of that year, I attended my first National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry conference and the Diocesan Leadership Pre-Conference provided by the Center for Youth Ministry Development, as the Center was known at that time. At this event, I met Brian Reynolds and John Roberto for the first time.
CLI was an important experience of empowerment and discipleship for the youth who participated. It was equally important for the adult team leaders who were challenged to broaden their understanding of ministry leadership. Christian Leadership Institute was the first program of the Center to come to Los Angeles and was the start of an amazing partnership between CYMD and the Archdiocese. These programs built upon the history of strong ministries that had been provided in the region. The Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies was sponsored two years later and included a new course that Los Angeles requested focusing on Multicultural Ministry. When we implemented the Certificate Program for our initial group of 50 students, it included the diocesan youth ministry staff. The staff and a select group of leaders were trained in conjunction with the Certificate Program as consultants to implement a process of building youth ministry in parishes throughout the Archdiocese. The Certificate program gave the youth ministry leaders in the Archdiocese a common language for describing and implementing youth ministry. The program trained a core group of leaders spread across the three counties of the Archdiocese who created a base for renewed ministries. Other training, resources, and consultation continued this work which transformed the services of the archdiocesan office for youth ministry and the ministries for youth and families in parishes.
The partnership with the Center was also transformational for me and my ministry. Coordinating the consultation process led to an invitation to contribute as an author for the Center's book entitled, Access Guide to Youth Ministry Leadership. I also began to provide leadership training in youth ministry in other dioceses and began teaching in the Certificate Program in 1991.
I joined the staff of CYMD full-time in 1994 and coincidentally, the first project I was asked to lead was for a program designed to follow CLI, called YouthLeader.
I was attracted to engage the Center in the ministries of our archdiocese because of the innovation, the energy, and the faithfulness of services which were all designed with the clear imperative to help ministry leaders implement Church vision and documents using the best thinking and research available in the worlds of ministry, business, and education. It is a privilege to continue this work and to have the opportunity to collaborate and partner with dedicated ministry leaders who are striving to implement a vision for ministry that is faithful, vibrant, and dynamic.
CMD is celebrating its' fortieth anniversary this year. We were founded shortly after the Bishops of the United States issued the original Vision of Youth Ministry. Pioneering leaders envisioned a Catholic non-profit agency that was completely dedicated to serving dioceses, parishes, and Catholic schools in implementing this new vision for ministry with youth. Along the way family ministry was added as we became the Center for Ministry Development. We serve and support leaders by providing ministry training, resources, and consultation for ministry with youth and families. We also provide mission experiences and leadership training for youth.
Over the last three years, CMD has re-tooled our programs to meet the needs of the Church today. We are striving to become the training place for leaders in the "field hospitals" that Pope Francis calls faith communities to be. Training programs, mission experiences, and online resources are being focused to respond to the call to Missionary Discipleship and the spreading of the Joy of the Gospel. These efforts are designed to transform parish and Catholic school ministries for youth and families. New initiatives include:
- A nation-wide program to promote transformed ministry with youth, based upon the call to accompany them on their journey of faith and vocational discernment. This will include training parents, coaches, sponsors, catechists, and ministry leaders to be faith companions and witnesses to young people.
- Training, resources, and consultation to help parishes connect families to the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
- New initiatives to promote youth leadership and evangelization which provide a practical way for young people to grow as Missionary Disciples.
The ministries of the Center for Ministry Development are possible because of the community of people who join us as adjuncts, who sponsor programs, who subscribe to resources, and who bring teams to the mission experiences. On behalf of the board of directors, the staff, and the ministry partners of CMD, I invite you to join us in praying for youth and family ministries and in dreaming about new ways to engage youth and families in the Good News of our Catholic faith.