Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.”– Pope Francis, encyclical Fratelli Tutti (2020), par.8
Our parish has been selected to participate in NeXt Level, a project of the Center for FaithJustice funded by the Lilly Endowment, which offers a new approach to youth ministry designed to strengthen Catholic parishes. NeXt Level invites youth to discover where their gifts intersect with our communities needs in order to create and implement parish-wide passion projects rooted in the Catholic tradition of service and justice.
Pope Francis has called upon youth to be “courageous missionaries” and “protagonists of change,” and in the NeXt Level model, youth agency is a pillar of a process that includes intergenerational mentoring and, ultimately, parish transformation.
Over the course of this program, experiences and overall impact on parish life will be collected, evaluated and disseminated across the field of Catholic youth ministry and faith formation. Our parish has the unique opportunity to be at the forefront of something new in Catholic youth ministry.
NeXt Level youth leaders, mentors, parents and pastoral team leaders held their first joint ZOOM “breaking bread” session on March 15. St. Joseph’s NeXt Level members then joined the 12 other New Jersey-New York parish groups in a joint retreat April 24 in Warren, NJ.
St. Joseph parishioners were engaged for the first time in a kickoff weekend for NeXt Level June 5-6, when a survey will help determine basic directions for a parish-wide service and justice project.
The NeXt Level experienced a week-long summer service immersion experience in Trenton in mid-July, generating a lot of ideas and enthusiasm. The parish will soon reap the fruits of that experience.
Besides being recipients of the Center for FaithJustice’s selection as a NeXt Level parish, and all the in-kind support and experiences that will go with it, we are deeply grateful for an anonymous donor who has stepped forth with a $20,000 gift to our project, to be directed to the ultimate project selected by our group.
St. Joseph’s NeXt Level Leaders to date: