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Diocesan office of youth expands to include campus and young adult ministries

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The role of the Office of Youth Ministries has expanded, according to Kevin Bohli, director of the Office of Youth, Campus and Young Adult Ministries.

Bohli said Arlington Bishop Michael F.  Burbidge approached him in June and asked if he would be willing to take on this new role.

He said the change, which began July 1, is consistent with almost every other diocese in the country that has offices of youth and young adult ministry.

“At the parish level, it is usually the director of youth ministry who also has the responsibility for creating young adult ministry programs within the parish,” said Bohli.

His office will continue to organize the large young adult Mass with Bishop Burbidge, Theology on Tap and assist with the evangelization of young adults.

“We will assist the parishes in building up young adult programs,” said Bohli. “You’ll probably see a shift in focus from our own events to helping the parishes to be doing better young adult ministry.”

In terms of campus ministry, Bohli said college campuses are already doing fantastic work and the office may try to bring the staffs together for training. They are considering creating a Catholic club or organization on community college campuses, such as Northern Virginia Community College, to provide an opportunity for their students to participate, he said.

Bohli hopes to incorporate graduate degrees in theology into diocesan training programs.

“We are always trying to increase the level of our training and increase the level of expertise of the people working in the field. A director of youth ministry is a professional position and career. So we want to help them be trained,” said Bohli.

More than 30 people are enrolled in the diocesan certificate program. The graduate studies would be ongoing formation for those who already have the certificate.

The office also has taken a larger role in helping youths get their religious Scouting emblems.

“People work through our office to order those, apply for them and go through the process of receiving their scouting emblems,” he said. “One of our big goals is that through Scouting, young people would be growing in their faith and in the church.”

The office has more ownership of Diocesan Northern Virginia Junior Catholic Youth Organization sports, and is looking to help support young adult sports, as well.

“We asked every young person between the ages of 16-29 to go online to complete a survey for the Vatican prior to the Synod of Bishops,” said Bohli. “The Vatican is asking youths for feedback.”

Youths will have an opportunity to speak directly to Bishop Burbidge about their faith lives close to the date of the Synod of Bishops in October 2018.

When Bishop Burbidge was installed in December 2016, he brought with him the episcopal motto, “Walk Humbly with Your God.”

His motto is the theme for this year’s youth office.

“It was easy to decide to use the episcopal motto,” said Bohli. “It gives (Bishop Burbidge) an opportunity throughout this first year at all of our events to explain why he chose that motto and introduce a little about himself.”

The logo blends a crown of thorns with the crown of a king. The word humbly is overlaid on a map of Arlington County to remind people of where they are called to serve, according to Bohli.

The calendar for the year includes several events that will provide an opportunity for youths and young adults to meet Bishop Burbidge.

Bishop Burbidge will attend the annual Rally at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington Oct. 22; BASH at O’Connell April 21; and Diocesan Kings Dominion Day in Doswell July 27.

Other events include the March for Life and Life is Very Good in January 2018 and WorkCamp June 23-29. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017