What is the best way to bring public and private school students together in Youth Ministry?
I wish I had a formula that would work for everyone. However, like so much that we deal with, there is no one answer. There is no fool proof method or program.
So what do we do?
First we must look inward and assess our own culture. This takes work and involvement of others. I minster in a parish which supports a full K-12 school. We are the only such high school in our diocese. While this has many advantages it also comes with some unique challenges.
When I first was asked to assume my role as coordinator of youth ministry, the question of how do we mesh students from both schools became a primary focus. I started with some simple actions. I purchased and wore swag from both schools. I then created my own hat and coat with both schools logos on them. I make it a point to wear them to both schools and to parish wide events. The back of my hat reads “ Two schools, one church.” I made it a point to visit both schools during lunch. I was also given approval to create a youth space that was separate from either school. A neutral site if you will.
I invited parents from both schools to a joint planning meeting for youth ministry. I then set about organizing events that would attract students from both schools. One such event was a stay home and serve style spring break which I entitled Home Town Mission Trip. Teens form both schools stayed overnight at the Youth Center and then went in teams during the day to serve local people. The teams were purposely a mix from both schools.
It was not long that teens were making new friends. This has spawned other such activities and created a blend of public and private school nights on Sundays.
The essence of what I have tried to do is create opportunities to enter into relationships. I try to serve as a role model to both parents and teens that while we may attend different schools we can have meaningful friendships with each other.
When we do, we truly become catholic.