The Church isn’t a club. It is an organization that exists mainly for the sake of those who do not yet belong. But reaching out to those on the periphery can be hard. Does your local parish feel like a “members only” environment? Thankfully, it seems that millennials don’t much like the “club-church” model and are starting something new: the “mission-church” model.
Msgr. Edward J. Theinat Sacred Heart Basilica in downtown Atlanta understood this very well. He enthusiastically supported turning his parish Holy Week into “Mission Week”. His secret sauce? Millennials, mission work and music!
A large team of almost 100 young adults from the apostolate Mission Youth came to his parish for Holy Week. What they did was a radical new concept: instead of living Holy Week safely inside the doors of the parish, they took Holy Week out into the streets. They brought the message of Jesus to everyone willing to listen in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, street corners and more. For this church, gone were the days of passively waiting for people to walk in the door. The kids were “commissioned” at the start of Holy Week during a special ceremony. Afterwards, they literally walked out into the streets!
“We even had our own theme song”, said Emily Roman, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christiwho helped organize the events. “These kids were singing the song as they walked the streets of Atlanta. It was for me like watching the first apostles at Pentecost leaving the Upper Room!” she said.
The theme song she is referring to was written by a young priest named Fr. John Klein. His music has a punchy and fast style that appeals to the kids. During the mission week he could be seen working alongside the kids with his guitar faithfully strapped to his back. He wrote a song just for the occasion. “Music is a great way to bring people together and spread the joy of the Gospel. Going through the streets singing is a reminder to all of us of our mission to spread the joy of the Gospel by first living it ourselves!”said Fr John.
The theme song is called “Movement Rising”. And they are a movement rising! It is as an overture to a musical score that has begun, revealing what is to come for the Church: millennials and missions.
“That is pretty much the bread and butter of Mission Youth”, said Fr Michael Mitchell, the priest who runs the program nationally. The entire organization Mission Youthis using a small group model and a missionary approach to the liturgy and youth ministry. “Too often the Church can be turned inward on itself”, said Fr Michael. “Pope Francis asked the youth to go and make a mess of the Church. By that he meant to go out in the streets and to think in new ways to bring the message of Christ. Mission Youth is one of those ways! I love being a part of it.”
For more information:
– More info on Mission Youth Missions here.