The 2017-2018 Diocesan Youth Ministry Annual Theme
This year’s youth ministry theme in the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville is “Put On Courage.” The phrase “Put On Courage” was inspired by several sources. The first source is the diocesan level World Youth Day theme for 2018, the angel Gabriel’s statement to Mary during the Annunciation, “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Lk 1:30 The second source is a homily on the Annunciation and Mary’s fiat by 12th century monk, St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
In reflecting on these sources, one virtue in particular stood out, courage. In today’s world, every day we encounter a seemingly endless list of reasons to deny our Catholic faith, stop practicing the Traditions handed down from the Apostles and instead enjoy the pleasures the world has to offer us. We have the choice to allow ourselves to be lead further away from God into the mess and hurtfulness of the world, or we as Christians, with our hope in Christ, we can make a firm resolution to be courageous and go against the tide. When we experience the love of Christ, our response is to share that love with others, and to do that, we must “Put on Courage.”
When what our annual theme would be was prayerfully considered, we decided that we would incorporate Pope St. John Paul II as our patron Saint, in honor of his love for our Blessed Mother and the youth of the world, his well know phrase “Do not be afraid” and his ability, so many times in his life, to “Put On Courage” in the face of adversity. The quote we will use for this year is “Do not be afraid to be holy! Have the courage and humility to present yourselves to the world determined to be holy, since full, true freedom is born from holiness.” Pope St. John Paul II
In our logo, the dove represents the Holy Spirit who is the giver of the gift of courage. The red and orange color represent fire and this was inspired by not only the tongues of fire at Pentecost but also by the fact that we are purified through fire. The root of the word courage is cor, the Latin word for heart. Courage requires heart or passion which is why the outline of the logo forms a heart (and why the logo itself is red?). Within the heart is a Marian Cross. This cross represents Mary’s close connection with the redemptive mission of Jesus and in particular it points us to Lk 1:30. The crucifix used within the Marian Cross is none other than the Papal Crucifix of Pope St. John Paul II, our patron saint for this year. Throughout his pontificate, Pope St. John Paul II, who was deeply devoted to Our Lady Mother, encouraged the youth of the world by continually echoing the angel Gabriel, saying “Do not be afraid.” Pope St. John Paul II’s ministry to the church was one of love, humility and courage, and there is so much for us to learn from his courageous example.
Additionally, in our logo, the overall upwards motion of the dove’s wings, combined with the shape of the heart and the Marian Cross, remind us that we must lift our hearts to God and ask for His help and Our Lady and JPII’s intercession in times when courage is needed.
As we grow in our understanding of the gift of courage, through the example of our Mother Mary, Pope St. John Paul II and most especially through Jesus’ life, we are better able to “Put On Courage” and live out our Catholic faith in an ever increasing hostile world.
We will use this theme throughout all of our event programming in this school year. We encourage all youth, campus, and young adult ministries to break open this theme throughout your programming which will connect your ministries with those of the diocesan church. Before covering this topic with your teens, spend time praying, reading the scriptures, and reflecting upon courage in your life. When have you been called to be courageous? Call to mind some examples you would be willing to share with the teens. It has been said that the opposite of courage is conformity. Would you agree with that statement?
Some points for discussion with your teens & the adult leader team.
- Reflect on the multiple Scriptural passages regarding courage.
- Abraham (Genesis 12-22)
- Joseph ( Genesis37:12-41)
- Moses (Exodus 2:1-10, 3-12:42
- Numbers 13-14
- Joshua (Book of Joshua)
- David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
- Esther (Book of Esther)
- Book of Job
- The Prophets (Isaiah- Malachi)
- The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-56)
- The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-42)
- Peter and John (Acts 3-4)
- What other Scriptural passages on courage can you recall?
- What is the difference between good courage and bad courage? [Good courage always relies upon the supernatural power of God to strengthen and motivate believers to be courageous as children of God (Romans 5:3-5). Bad courage relies on human abilities and motives such as the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride (James 1:19-27; 1 John 2:15-16).]
- The hearts of believers who show good courage are strengthened by God: Psalms 27:14; Psalms 31:24
- God inspires believers to encourage one another: Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28; Acts 28:15; Ephesians 4; Hebrews 10:24
- Good courage is pleasing to God: Deuteronomy 31:6-8, 23; Joshua 1:1-18; Joshua 10:25; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 2 Chronicles 19:11; Psalms 27:14; Psalms 31:24
- Believers and non-believers alike can demonstrate and inspire others to demonstrate bad courage: Deuteronomy 13:6-8; 2 Samuel 1:14-17; Psalms 64:5’ Proverbs 1:10; Ephesians 6:4
- God does not approve of evil courage: Psalms 55:19; Amos 2:16; Romans 3:10-17
- What does it mean to be courageous in the life of a middle schooler or high schooler today? How are you called or perhaps challenged to be courageous each day?
- What is the difference between being courageous and being brave?
- In a culture that can be much divided, in what ways can we show courage in situations with those that hold different viewpoints?
- How does the Sacrament of Reconciliation help us to be courageous?
If you would like a copy of our “Put On Courage” logo to use for your parish this year, please contact Alyson Radford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-282-3631.