Journey to Emmaus now online

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A video version of the Arlington Diocese's Journey to Emmaus curriculum is now being offered online to youth ministers across the nation. The Office of Youth Ministry hopes this resource will help more adults in the parish become witnesses to the faith through fostering intentional discussions with youths in a variety of settings.

The Journey to Emmaus was created by the diocese in 2010 as a way to provide an organized catechesis curriculum to coordinators of youth ministry. The program consists of 80 sessions that provide a detailed explanation of a topic, Scripture and catechism references, sample prayers, activities and related media links to music, books and websites.

Kevin Bohli, Office of Youth Ministry director, said the program aims to prevent "popcorn ministry" - teaching the faith without a deliberate plan of action. "We wanted coordinators of youth ministry to understand that there is a systematic approach to catechesis," Bohli said.

Bohli said very few teens will ever set foot in a youth group, so the video version allows leaders to create those same types of interactions and engage youths in discussions about the faith in a multitude of settings.

The video version features a 3-5 minute clip for each session of the Journey to Emmaus curriculum, designed to facilitate an understanding of a particular aspect of the faith. Each session in this video version comes with a one-page guide that includes a summary of the video and its catechetical goal, as well as a closing prayer.

The sessions also feature four to five corresponding discussion questions ranging in complexity so that conversations can be tailored to the specific audience and setting. Bohli said the use of this resource could be as simple as a basketball coach showing his team a video after practice and engaging in a 10 minute discussion about its message.

Bohli said the paramount goal for the video version is for it to be implemented as a guide and resource to help leaders of nontraditional youth groups - like Scouts or sports teams - be witnesses to the faith. He said coaches and Scouting leaders are often one of the most respected adults in the life of a teen, and therefore have tremendous ability to make an impact through the conversations they start.

He hopes the impact of these videos will be a greater understanding that youth ministry is not just about a traditional youth group, but rather "youth groupings" - the many different groupings within the parish that young people are involved with, and which present opportunities to teach about the faith.

The online version of Journey to Emmaus is completely free to access by anyone inside and outside of the Arlington Diocese. The original text version, which includes more detailed lesson plans, is free only to parishes within the diocese, but is available for purchase by others. It already has been purchased by the dioceses of Kansas City-St. Joseph; Richmond; Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va.; and Wichita, Kan., as well as more than 15 other parishes.

The videos are not only a valuable resource within the Arlington Diocese, but also a great way to encourage other youth ministry programs across the country, Bohli said.

To access and learn more about the Journey to Emmaus video version, go to www.arlingtondiocese.org/youth and click on "Journey to Emmaus".

Husar can be reached at mhusar@catholicherald.com

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016