Why is it only a men’s community? Don’t women work with kids, too?
Women do fantastic work with kids and young adults! Many of the best youth ministers we know are women, and we learn from them all the time. We work with them in forming CLCs for boys and girls in the parishes, in helping them build quality co-ed parish youth ministry and campus ministry programs, in creating retreats and workshops and planning other events such as World Youth Day trips and annual workcamps. Our work would have made far less of a difference were it not for the hundreds of well-trained and highly skilled women who at the same time have given sacrificially to help young people know Christ.
Youth Apostles began as a continuation of a high school boys’ community led by a Catholic layman who especially hoped to find brothers who could help him continue and expand his work with young people. This project has consumed the community since its inception in 1979. During the following 33 years, we have made an effort to contribute to the general improvement of youth ministry in our diocese, principally by hosting monthly youth ministry seminars open to the public and by cultivating a collegial and cooperative spirit among the men and women who work and volunteer with kids in our area.
In November 2005, several women discerned personal commitments to founding a community that shares our vision for youth ministry. Over the years, our sisters have prayed about, lived and discerned the shape and direction of this community of Women Youth Apostles. If you would like to learn more about our sister community, click here.
Youth Apostles spirituality is an essentially Catholic spirituality that calls members to commit themselves to the basics of the Catholic faith. The spiritual life of the Catholic culminates in the celebration of the Mass. The faithful are encouraged to participate in the Mass every day – the Youth Apostle strives to make this happen. Christ is the center of the Youth Apostle’s life. Everything else, including his ministry to young people, flows from this communion with Christ in the reception of the Eucharist. Frequent, regular confession and spiritual direction support this commitment to the most important of the sacraments.
Youth Apostles spirituality is also deeply Marian. Mary’s radical response to the Father’s command that she bear his Son by the Holy Spirit brought Christ into the world. Similarly, God has a plan for each of us and His call is a constant opportunity for us to imitate Mary’s humility and obedience and bring Christ into the world for others. Mary’s “fiat,” her radical “yes” to God, is the foundation for the Youth Apostles Prayer, which begins with the declaration, “Dear Lord, we no longer want to live for ourselves, but for you.” Youth Apostles seek to cultivate this devotion to Mary through the Angelus, a daily Rosary, and other Marian prayers.
The community’s common spiritual life is further directed by its patron saints, whose lives and spiritual writings form the foundation for much of the community’s ongoing formation programs. Each Youth Apostle is called to get to know these saints intimately, and to strive to imitate their lives and their works as disciples in the contexts of their own times. If you would like to learn more about the patron saints of our community, click here.
In what sense is Youth Apostles a “community”?
Community is at once a very simple and very slippery thing. Intuitively or logically, most people seem to know what it is, yet very few find what they’d call a genuine experience of it. Community is a place, a set of shared ideals, a life together, a group of friends. We look for it in our neighborhoods, our parishes, our schools, or other institutions. Sometimes our experiences live up to the name, other times, they fall far short.
Youth Apostles is a community in the sense that all of us have made a strong, personal commitment to move our faith from the periphery to the center of our lives; that we share a desire to help young people do the same thing; that we work–side-by-side whenever we can–to build up the young as they grow spiritually and morally; that we come together as often as possible to celebrate the Mass and share openly with one another our lives and our efforts to live this challenging call.
We are blessed with a community house, where some of our priests, consecrated laymen, and single laymen live. Our main Community House, located in McLean, Va., is home to 12 of our members, consecrated priests, consecrated laymen, and single laymen, all of whom participate directly in youth ministry leadership. Dozens more, including most of our married members, live in the area, gathering on Tuesday nights whenever possible for Mass and the weekly community meetings. Several members have moved away but continue to participate in our annual retreats and workshops and visit us when they return home to see family. But it is our spiritual bonds that are most fundamental to our lives and convictions as Youth Apostles.