The Importance of Mentorship: A Research Basis
As we have shared on our website, a common question in the church today is "where have the youth gone?" As an organization, we believe that instead we need to be asking "how do we recognize and receive their God-given gifts and talents?" One way for us to recognize and receive their gifts are by ensuring they have advocates in our communities who actively encourage and support them.
What is the relationship between informal mentoring and youth involvement in the Catholic Church? As some of you know, I am currently in a Masters of Organizational Leadership program at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. This was the research question of my most recent assignment.
When researching this question I found Lanker and Issler’s (2010) study. It is the most comparable published study to this specific question as it points to various results that show a correlation to youth spirituality sustaining or growing through adolescence when relationships were built with mentors. Mentoring can help youth discover their unique identity while providing them emotional support and an example of continued involvement in the Catholic Church. It also helps identify the spiritual gifts youth posses and can help provide outlets to share those talents with the larger faith community thus building a deeper bond.
Building a culture in our Church that encourages mentoring and also utilizing the talents of youth is key to the future of the Church. This is just one of the many reasons we at OCI feel called to focus not only on the youth, but on their adult mentors as well.
To represent the findings of my assignment I wrote this poem which I hope you will enjoy!
Inspired By Clement Clarke Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas”
'Twas the eve before Mass, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The children were asleep and the alarms were set,
they knew when they woke, going to Mass was a sure bet;
As children we go, because that is what our families do,
But as we grow we make our own decisions too;
We go with our families, we go to see a friend
But as we get busy with school our priorities sometimes bend;
By our late teen year we begin to drift,
Church is no longer something we consider a gift;
It’s a duty, it’s a choice and we begin to skip,
We may still have faith, but its beginning to slip;
How could they prevent our commitment to tradition from waning?
Could an adult whom we trust have kept our faith from draining?
A source of support and guidance in our faith life,
Can give us the energy and inspiration to avoid strife
In studies completed in the past few years
Teens whom had mentors more deeply experienced Gods love without fears
They showed a commitment to their spiritual community day by day
They showed a commitment to continue to pray
Is this the secret, is this the missing link?
Do these mentors inspire us, and help us not to sink?
If more youth had mentors would more youth stay?
If more youth had mentors would we be in a different place today?
Lanker, J., & Issler, K. (2010). The relationship between natural mentoring and spirituality in Christian adolescents. Journal Of Youth Ministry, 9(1), 93-109.
-- Jes Garceau