The pastors of the Diocese of San Jose have noticed a significant decrease in the presence of committed involved youth and young adults in our Catholic parishes. They asked, “Where are the young people?” From 2011-2012, the Council of Priests studied the reasons why. Primarily using the National Study on Youth and Religion (interviews of over 3,300 American youth), the priests had two major realizations: (1) the religiosity of our youth largely reflects their parents’ religious devotion (or lack thereof) and by extension that of their congregations; (2) most teenagers believe in a God who teaches the importance of being nice, feeling good about oneself, and saving God for emergencies.
These two realizations have exposed a significant problem: the failed interpretation of our following Jesus Christ. The God that most teenagers believe is not the God that we ministers believe or teach. Rather, it is the God that young people are interpreting from the adult witnesses close to them. If we form adult Christian disciples who know in a personal way Jesus Christ, the youth will follow. If we form followers of Jesus Christ who understand, live and articulate their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the studies have said we can expect the youth to follow. The primary adult witnesses of our youth are their parents or guardians.
From 2012-2013, the Council of Priests worked in close collaboration with the Diocesan Directors of Youth and Youth Adults, Catechetical Ministry, and Hispanic Apostolate to develop and propose a pilot plan called “Catholic on Purpose: Committed to Christ, a Plan for Evangelization for the Diocese of San Jose”. The plan originally targeted parents but has expanded to include all adult faithful. Its aim is to form disciples of Jesus Christ. In March 2013, Bishop Patrick McGrath approved the development of the proposed plan.
Catholic on Purpose is a refocusing of all parish ministry in the Diocese of San Jose on Jesus Christ. It is not a new program developed by an outside organization. It is making intentional the primary purpose of all ministry as stated in our Diocesan Pastoral Plan—“Christ and Christ alone is at the center” (“Renewing the Church: A Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of San Jose”, 2002, page 6). Catholic on Purpose is less about programs and more about the intention behind our existing ministries and programs. It is the shared intention made explicit in our diocesan ministries to form followers of Jesus Christ. Catholic on Purpose involves every minister in the Diocese of San Jose to rethink and refocus their ministry according to the mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:20)
The plan of Catholic on Purpose is to target and support the work of six pilot parishes over a span of five years. Each parish will determine a specific area within their ministries that will focus on the goal of forming disciples. The six pilot parishes will meet together to dialogue on progress, challenges and successes. Their collaboration is a vital part of the plan. The Catholic on Purpose Support Team will work alongside the six parishes and appropriate parish staff to discern, develop and implement the parish-specific plan by providing researched tools and resources. Throughout the five year span, various trainings will be offered to the pilot parish staff. These trainings will be open to other parishes in the diocese. Communication of these trainings as well as the progress of the parish-specific plans will be maintained with the larger diocese so that other parishes do not have to wait until the conclusion of the pilot plan to start implementing some changes. It is the intent of the plan that the collaboration of the six would provide inspiration to other parishes, schools and institutions in the diocese.
a. Phase I: Orientation (Fall 2013)
Catholic on Purpose Support Team members, pilot parish clergy and staff introduced to the need for forming disciples and the core principles behind forming disciples.
b. Phase II: Pilot Parish Plan (Fall 2013)
Discerned focus by each pilot parish; Development of focus with assistance of the Pilot Parishes and Catholic on Purpose Support Team
c. Phase III: Implementation (Fall 2013-2018)
Ongoing support by Catholic on Purpose Support Team to parish staff; ongoing communication to larger diocese of progress; ongoing meetings of pilot parishes
d. Phase IV: Assessment (2018)
Chosen based on their representation of the diverse cross section of the Diocese of San Jose:
The current members:
Rev. Joe Kim, chair
The mission of the Catholic on Purpose Support Team is:
Relying on the Holy Spirit among us, we help parish leaders form intentional disciples of Jesus Christ through integrated focus on word, worship, community and service.
a. What is evangelization?
b. Who does evangelization?
c. How do we help make disciples?
Questions and comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org