Our youth group understands the importance of direct service to our community and advocacy or promotion of “social change.” We recognize that charity only helps a small few and only for short periods of time. We recognize the government can make the necessary changes in society that will remain in place long after the charity is done; that programs such as Basic Income Guarantee, End Poverty Day, Indigenous Cultural training, and Food Policy Council all take us one step forward.
We are a generation raised on the ethic of service. We have been doing volunteer work since elementary school. We want to give something back. Social Justice is a ministry that appeals to youth.
Youth want to be part of something, we want to bring fruition to our ideas for what we perceive as life changing social ministries. We do not want to fit into existing projects or ministry models. We want to address root causes of poverty (social and political inequality) not just treat the symptoms of poverty.
As SSVP members we help people in need, but we also know that we need to minimize inequality, poverty and aim for social justice for all people.
A Millennial craves depth, a need the church and existing social justice teams are uniquely poised to meet. This may be a way the church can build a deeper, more lasting connection with youth. Embracing social justice is a key to attracting youth, it needs to be put out front and center, so they recognize a potential partner in creating a better world for everyone.
We want, as Christians, to contribute positively to society, serve Jesus in a personal and relevant way. Social Justice teams may just have the cause or mission to motivate youth to discover their way and their own mission.
Social Justice teams are in the unique position to connect youth with the resources to do something amazing that they are passionate about. The goal of youth is to make a difference in the world, to do something sustainable, and to advance local policy and program initiatives that better serve people who are hopeless.
The church can be the community to actually engage in “doing stuff.” We are ready, we are globally conscious, and we are aided by technological connectivity. We can Google anything. News and current social issues fill our Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds. We face a moral essential need that pushes us to act even if we have no idea how or where to start! We realize there are so many issues that need to be addressed such as climate change, mass shootings, gender violence and food and water access. Where there is an injustice we want to respond whether in person, online or with money.
We are a generation that wants to make the world more just and equitable. We seek to collaborate when possible to resolve social problems. This collaboration on social justice holds tremendous potential as a recruitment tool to engage youth in attending church. If you want a Millennial to attend church it must be personally relevant and of value to them.
We want to be part of a church that is doing things that are valuable, visible and memorable. We want to see words put into action. We want an experience with God. What better place for a young Catholic Millennial to feel they can truly make a difference with their gifts and talents than at their church and the social justice team may just be the vehicle to entice them to enter.
We are very much aware of the problems we face, and wouldn’t it be amazing and inspiring for us to learn about and appreciate the work of generations of churchgoers, who gave birth to campaigns, movements, crusades and voices that we could add our perspective and bodies of energy to.
London, Ontario, Canada Vincentian youth
Tags: social justice, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Youth