I have frequent discussions with parish and diocesan leaders about how to use Youth Ministry Access (YMA) to provide adolescent catechesis. Clearly, there’s a need for affordable and solid Catholic resources in sharing faith with youth. There is also a need for allowing for the creativity and flexibility of the ministry leader. YMA is a great option for many of these communities because it provides flexible and engaging resources that can be used in a number of settings.
YMA is a robust and affordable subscription resource for your middle school and high school youth ministry and adolescent catechesis. Hundreds of youth ministry leaders across the country use YMA and could not imagine getting by without all it has to offer. They use its many resources to build their efforts for evangelization, catechesis, and preparation for Confirmation. They're using YMA to build discipleship among their young people!
In 2008, the USCCB published a document entitled Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age. This framework is intended as a resource for publishers in the creation of instructional material. Given the need to provide a plan for parishes and youth ministry settings, the USCCB then published the Adaptation of Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age for Use in Parish and Youth Ministry Programs. This adaptation document focused on the six core courses of the framework:
With this new framework in mind, we've developed new high school youth sessions and correlated existing high school sessions for these six core courses with Youth Ministry Access. We've compiled the most recent listing of sessions by core course here: Correlation-of-YMA-to-Adaptation-3-27-2018
As mentioned above, the YMA High School subscription utilizes the framework as a basis for the catechetical sessions. Within the YMA Middle School session though, we utilize the guidelines for young adolescents from Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry. In this 1997 document from the USCCB, it articulates faith themes derived from the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Profession of Faith
- Catholic Beliefs—understanding the Creed and the core beliefs of the Catholic faith.
- Holy Trinity—introduction to God's unique self-revelation as three in one and some implications for living Christian faith and spiritual life.
- Jesus Christ—exploring the meaning of the Incarnation, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, and the call to discipleship.
- Church—understanding the origins of the Church in Jesus Christ and understanding and experiencing the history of the Church and its mission.
The Sacraments of Faith
- Sacraments—understanding the role of the sacraments in the Christian life and experiencing the Church's celebration of the sacraments.
- The Church—understanding the reason for and beauty of the Church; identifying the necessity of the Church for our salvation.
- Church Year—understanding the meaning of the liturgical seasons of the Church year and the scriptural teachings presented through the Lectionary.
The Life of Faith
- Life in the Spirit—understanding how the Spirit dwells in our midst in a new way since Pentecost and understanding that God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
- The Dignity of the Human Person—recognizing the divine image present in every human person.
- Morality and Living a Virtuous Life—incorporating Catholic moral principles and virtues into one's life and moral decision making.
- Personal Growth—discerning the Spirit at work in their lives and incorporating the Catholic vision of life into personal identity.
- Relationships—developing and maintaining relationships based on Catholic values and the meaning of Christian community.
- Sexuality—understanding the Church's teaching on sexual morality, understanding the Church's positive view of sexuality as a gift from God, and understanding the importance of valuing chastity and sexual restraint.
- Social Justice and Service—understanding the importance of respecting the rights and responsibilities of the human person, appreciating our call to be stewards of creation, and discovering and living Jesus' call to a life of loving service.
- Grace as Gift—recognizing God's indwelling spirit in our lives and responding to this gift, which justifies and sanctifies us through God's law.
- Lifestyles and Vocation—discerning how to live the Christian vocation in the world, in the workplace, and in marriage, single life, ministerial priesthood, permanent diaconate, or consecrated life.
Prayer in the Life of Faith
- Christian Prayer—understanding and experiencing the many forms of prayer in the Church—especially prayer through the church year—and the importance of the "Our Father" in Christian prayer.
These faith themes provide the basis for the catechetical sessions for middle school youth within YMA. Each session is 75 minutes long and incorporates age-appropriate methods and examples.
Many diocese and parishes use YMA differently to meet their unique ministry needs (many of them catecheticalsettings). A notable use of YMA for catechetical settings is in the Diocese of Erie (PA). In the Diocese of Erie, Youth Ministry Access is being used for the implementation of the framework in parishes. In conjunction with St. Mary's Press The Catholic Faith Handbook Third Edition, YMA sessions are used in a three year process to teach the framework. Below are the latest plans from the Diocese of Erie that provide a snapshot of YMA sessions for the whole year.
Youth Ministry Access is not listed on the conformity listing because it is not eligible for review. Digital resources and subscription websites are not eligible since they are not specifically textbooks. In an effort to clarify the specific purpose of the conformity listing, the USCCB published a letter entitled Criteria and Applicability - Clarification on Conformity of Catechetical Materials with this to say:
It is important to note, however, that not all catechetical texts and materials are subject to a conformity review. The fact that a given item does not appear on the Subcommittee's "Conformity List" does not necessarily mean that it has been reviewed and found to be deficient, or that the publisher has failed to submit it. A conformity review is not applicable to materials that fall into one of the following categories: 1) Catechetical materials that provide doctrinal content in teacher or catechist manuals rather than in student materials. The Subcommittee will undertake a conformity review of teacher or catechist manuals only when they complement student materials that already have a declaration of conformity or are under review for conformity. 2) Catechetical materials that are published in the form of regularly updated leaflets or periodicals with frequently changing content. These include materials related to the Church's liturgical year. 3) Individual monographs which focus specifically on individual topics, teachings or devotions, including biblical commentaries and college level student texts. 4) Materials that include biological and physiological content along with catechetical content. 5) Digital media, including websites and DVD’s. [emphasis added]
Important considerations for using YMA in catechetical settings include: