In June 2016, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia launched newly revived youth and young adult ministry initiative named ANTHEM. It was designed to serve as the successor to the Office for Youth and Young Adults (OYYA), which had been dissolved in 2012. Both modes of ministry and evangelization sought to address the needs of youth and young adults under the auspices of one administrative team and supporting staff.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) defines “youth” as young people ages 12-18 in junior high school or high school. The USCCB defines “young adults” as people ages 19-39 who are single, married, divorced, widowed, in college, working, unemployed, incarcerated, or in military service.
Over the years, the landscape of youth and young adult ministry has evolved rapidly along ethnic and cultural lines. In addition, national best practices have shown that hybrid ministerial models lack the ability to fully address the unique needs of the age groups being served based on their levels of spiritual, physical, and emotional maturity.
Soon after his arrival in Philadelphia, Archbishop Pérez formed a task force to study ministry to youth and young adults in the five-county Archdiocese of Philadelphia and its level of effectiveness. As a priest, pastor, bishop, and episcopal advisor to the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), the Archbishop has played an active role in ministry to youth and young adults at various levels and witnessed first hand its changing nature.
The task force contained representation from the local and national levels and used three documents to guide its work—Renewing the Vision and Sons and Daughters of Light from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation to young people Christus Vivet.
During the course of its work, task force members consulted with senior leadership of the Archdiocese. It also surveyed pastors, youth ministers, and young adults throughout the five-county region to identify the needs and desires of the youth and young adult populations from various angles including multi-cultural communities and serving those with disabilities.
Today, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that Archbishop Pérez has accepted the recommendations of the Task Force to form two distinct and new offices. In doing so, the Archbishop expressed sincere gratitude for the hard work and dedication of those who served this vital ministry under the OYYA and ANTHEM models.
One of the new offices will focus on youth ministry and the other will focus on young adult ministry with appropriate collaboration between them. Each office will have its own director with additional staffing to be determined.
In order to provide for consistency in approach, adherence to the recommendations set forth by the Task Force, and alignment with Archdiocesan goals, the work of both offices will be overseen by Mrs. Ann Menna, Deputy Secretary for Catechetical Formation in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and Reverend Steven DeLacy, the Archbishop’s Delegate for Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
As this new model unfolds, it will be accompanied by further study and research to ensure appropriate development as well as allocation of resources in a prudent fashion.
In the coming weeks a search committee will be led by the Archdiocesan Human Resources Office, Mrs. Menna, and Father DeLacy to identify and hire the best possible candidates to staff the newly formed offices. Their search will be shaped by the work and findings of the task force. Currently, it is expected that the offices will be staffed by fall of 2020.
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Contact: Kenneth A. Gavin
Chief Communications Officer