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May 2, 2003

regarding the Office for Youth and Young Adults and Camp Neumann
April 2003

In June of 2000, the Office for Youth and Young Adults (OYYA) completed a study of Camp Neumann in Jamison, Bucks County, which said that because of deteriorating conditions, the camp could remain open for only 3 to 5 more years. Camp Neumann has served for 38 years as a Catholic camping experience for many thousands of youth. As a result of the study, the archdiocese formed an independent Ad Hoc Committee of business and church leaders to "conduct a comprehensive review of OYYA, its operations, personnel and budget as well as the present and future needs of Camp Neumann and to provide recommendations to the administration regarding the same."

For one year (December 2001 to November 2002), the Ad Hoc Committee for OYYA and Camp Neumann met to carefully review and evaluate programs, services, and finances and to solicit insights, opinions and visions from OYYA and Camp Neumann staff as well as lay adults and priests involved in youth ministry throughout the archdiocese. The Ad Hoc Committee submitted recommendations to the archdiocese in late 2002. Those recommendations were accepted by Cardinal Bevilacqua in late February 2003.

Summary of key observations by the Ad Hoc Committee:

OYYA staff has been doing the very best it could under a centralized operational model. Staff members are seen as dedicated, passionate and faith-filled workers of immense integrity. However, there was almost unanimous consensus that the office structure is top heavy with too many staff positions and is too programmatically focused. There was consensus that the office be decentralized and restructured in such a way that it can effectively support parish/cluster needs and programs as well as offer appropriate materials and resources to do the ministry within the parish and/or cluster of parishes.

Camp Neumann's camping clientele, at present, comes almost exclusively from Bucks and Montgomery Counties. There are a number of parishes who seek a location to take grade school students for a day retreat program in preparation for Confirmation or for other reasons. There is also need for overnight retreat experiences. Summer programs with a spiritual dimension, retreats and centers for spirituality are essential tools for the Church in its commitment to youth and young adults.

Summary of key recommendations by the Ad Hoc Committee:

That Camp Neumann be phased out within two to three years and unuseable buildings be shut down immediately. The committee noted that with all the current and future physical needs as well as many other factors surrounding the camp, it is not good stewardship to expend any money at the Camp Neumann location.

That the Archdiocese, in order to bring a Catholic "recreational/learning program" to greater numbers of youth, offer summer programs to youth in conjunction with the local Catholic high schools...seeking to expand the number and locations of such programs and adding a strong Catholic spiritual dimension to them. That the Secretary for Catholic Education develop a mechanism for the integration, coordination and expansion of these programs.

That the Archdiocese actively seek the establishment of a spirituality center or centers for retreats for youth and others.

That the Community Service Corps come under the office for Catechetical Formation for efficiency purposes and Camp Overbrook be appropriately continued under this new structure.

The Archdiocese is now working on a re-direction of resources, including:

The Office for Youth and Young Adults will be decentralized and restructured to re-focus its resources from primarily providing large numbers of centralized programs to supporting and developing youth and young adult ministry in the parishes and clusters more directly. This new approach will enhance efforts to reach those Catholic children in grades K-12 attending public or private schools and not currently receiving any type of religious instruction.

In order to improve communications with other departments, OYYA will eventually be relocated to the Archdiocesan Office Center at 222 North 17th Street, Philadelphia.
OYYA will be streamlined from 30 to 12 full time positions: a Director, 3 Assistant Directors (Parish Youth Ministry, Athletic Program, Young Adult Ministry), 6 Vicariate Administrative Coordinators and support staff.

The archdiocese is studying the establishment of two Spirituality Centers that will allow for overnight or daytime retreats : one at Mary Immaculate Center in Northhampton (expanding the facilities of Saint John Neumann Hall) and another at the Faculty House at Archbishop Carroll High School, Radnor. The Center in Northhampton will allow for overnight retreats. The Center in Radnor will allow for mostly day time retreats, however, it could be used for overnights for a smaller number of participants.

These changes are ways the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is working to strengthen its Catholic outreach to youth and young adults and to reach many more of them on a grassroots level.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

This is a new millennium with new challenges and needs. Pope John Paul II has challenged us with Jesus' own words, "to put out into the deep." Some critical issues at Camp Neumann needed to be examined, studied and decided. To do so necessitated a careful review and study of programing, resources and administration of archdiocesan ministry to youth and young adults. An independent ad hoc committee, composed of eight (8) church and Catholic business leaders, was tasked with this assignment. Through countless hours of listening, learning, study, evaluating and visioning they reached the conclusions outlined below. The following are the most frequently asked questions:

1. What's happening to the Office for Youth and Young Adults (OYYA)?

The Office for Youth and Young Adults will remain open and very active! OYYA has a long and rich history within the archdiocese. It began as an athletic program (CYO) and grew into a multi-faceted outreach to youth and young adults. Over the years, as needs were identified, new programs were added. More recently, it expanded to include outreach to young adults as well.

The administrative structure of the office also grew. In order to make better use of all the resources available and to meet the expressed needs of parishes and clusters of parishes, OYYA's structure will be revised.

The office will NOT be closed nor done away with! While the new structure will streamline personnel and operations, it will also re-focus energy and resources to individual parishes and clusters of parishes. The position of Vicariate Coordinator, one for each vicariate, is recommended to implement this new strategy of outreach to youth and young adults. In no way will the office be less involved with youth and young adults. However it will operate in a new model.

The new structure will mean that planning, programming and implementation will be developed "from the ground up," that is from the parishes to the clusters to the vicariate to the archdiocesan levels. This is a change in dynamics and process, not a change in commitment or involvement.

2. Is the archdiocese closing down the Community Service Corps?

No. The archdiocese is not closing down nor ending the Community Service Corps (CSC) program. In fact, it expects to strengthen it throughout the archdiocese. The Office for Youth and Young Adults made a unilateral decision to move the CSC operations out of Clover Street to the Ardmore office at the end of June 2003. While the staff and operations are moving to a new location, the program will continue.

3. What about beyond next year?

Community Service Corps (CSC) will continue beyond next year as well. When OYYA is fully re-structured, CSC will move as a separate department within the Office for Catechetical Formation. CSC will continue to operate in close relationship with OYYA. Because Christian service is such an integral part of our faith and spiritual life, it should have a primary focus and position within Catechetical formation. In this new arrangement, this focus will happen. Also, this arrangement seeks more efficiency on the archdiocesan level, avoiding unnecessary duplication, and a strengthening of efforts on the local levels.

4. Is it true that Operation Santa Claus will end?

No! Operation Santa Claus exists in very many parishes, schools and institutions of the archdiocese. Some groups participate on their local area level only. Others participate on an archdiocesan level. While the details of how to coordinate Operation Santa Claus on the archdiocesan level within the new structure have not yet been worked out, Operation Santa Claus will continue.

5. When will these administrative changes take place?

The re-structuring will take place gradually over the next year with the goal of being fully operational by June 30, 2004. This period of transition is very important and necessary, so that the great work and programs of OYYA can be reviewed and appropriately placed into the new vision and structure. This will mean many adjustments and it will take some time. Care will be exercised to be sure that those without sufficient means will have access to these services. Courage, vision, abiding faith and unshakeable trust will be needed by everyone as a new path is trod to bring the tradition of quality youth ministry and service to a new level.

6. Is Camp Overbrook closing?

No! The recommendation is that Camp Overbrook., an outreach program for underprivileged children, be continued under the new structure.

7. Is Camp Neumann closing?

Yes, within the next two to three years Camp Neuman will close. Any unsafe buildings are already closed or are being repaired.

8. Has the camp been condemned?

No! Camp Neumann has NOT been condemned. The camp will go on as usual through the camping season and follow all the appropriate codes as always. The Township of Warwick has moved legislatively, so that after Camp Neumann is closed they will have the ability to purchase the property themselves, if the Archdiocese seeks to sell the property.

9. Why is camp closing?

Camp Neumann has served thousands of children and young people for almost forty years. Over these years, it has struggled financially. Several of its buildings are showing the signs of much wear and tear. Many groups do not find the facilities up to par for their needs, while some groups like its rustic atmosphere.

While the fees charged for camp activities come close to the expenses to run the camp, these fees do not address the extreme need for capital repairs. The cost of repairing and upgrading the facilities along with many other factors, such as the encroachment of suburban development, land issues and increased fees, are too great to be overcome in a practical manner and with good stewardship.

10. Will there be any other options?

The archdiocese will strengthen and expand the number of summer programs held at area Catholic high schools, adding a strong Catholic spiritual dimension to them. The Secretary for Catholic Education will coordinate this outreach and these programs. More youth will be able to participate in many more geographical areas of the archdiocese.

The archdiocese will also actively seek the development of two spirituality centers, one within the archdiocese and one at Mary Immaculate Center, Northampton. This two pronged approach will benefit both those seeking facilities for day programs and those seeking facilities for overnight programs.

11. Why are all these changes happening now?

Over the past fifteen years, the archdiocese has made attempts to strengthen programs and activities on the local level in parishes, clusters and vicariates. From parish and cluster pastoral planning new initiatives and requests have arisen. The reorganization of OYYA will decentralize and streamline its central operations in such a way as to more effectively respond to these needs and requests. The recently completed Tenth Synod of the Archdiocese also reviewed and discussed similar ideas.

This new structure will focus energies and resources on strengthening local programs, bringing together all the different areas that involve youth and educational activities. It will provide planning and implementation from the grass roots level. While reducing the number of archdiocesan programming efforts in favor of providing direct support and assistance to the parishes and clusters of parishes, it will also allow for parishes, clusters and vicariates to come together invigorating those programs done on an archdiocesan level.

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Catherine Rossi

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