Assoc. Prof. Richard G. Pazcoguin, O.P., MA, Director of the Center for Campus Ministry, presented UST’s Certificate on Youth Ministry, Pastoral Leadership, and Empowerment (CYMPLE) program to member-institutions of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) – National Capital Region (NCR) during the latter’s gathering held on August 21, 2019.

In his presentation, Pazcoguin noted that CYMPLE came to be as a response to the need of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) to have a standard youth program, for previous programs conducted were either “ad hoc or have become outdated or defunct because the young people [who used to be] in-charge have outgrown the program.” In light of the need for a new evangelization, the program became even more necessary. Also, the program now becomes a contribution of the RCAM and UST in forming youth missionaries, especially as the Philippines nears Jubilee 2021, when it will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the archipelago.

According to Pazcoguin, while all Catholic young people are young ministers by virtue of baptism, there are those “who are called to become trained youth ministers who will design, plan, implement, and evaluate youth ministry programs.”

What the program entails

Those who become part of the program must first be recommended by the Parish Priest / Ministry Chaplain and must be screened by the Archdiocesan Commission on Youth (ACY) prior to acceptance.

Once qualified, the participant joins a 7-Saturday, 8-hours-per-session program that is coupled with a required mission experience / oral exam. To successfully earn the certificate, the participant must have completed at least 75% of the total program hours and must have complied with the course requirements (i.e., assessment tests, reflection papers, and other special projects).

The program includes modules on the following: 1) Catholic Youth Ministry; 2) Effective Youth Leadership; 3) Engaged Citizenship; 4) Management of Organization; 5) Critical Thinking; 6) Public Speaking; 7) Social Media and Evangelization; 8) Youth Catechesis; 9) Peer Facilitating; and 10) Conflict Management. There is also a mission experience and oral examinations, followed by an overnight retreat for Youth Spirituality and Prayer. A Liturgical Commissioning Rite and Graduation Ceremony serve as the end points of the program.

The program, though at the moment non-degree and non-credit, is graded and provides more weight to the responsibility of youth ministers in their parishes / communities.

Forming the youth through the years

As of 2019, a total of eight batches of youth ministers have successfully completed the program. These participants are from the Archdiocesan Parish Youth Ministry (APYM), Archdiocesan Youth Organizations and Movements (AYOM), Dormitory Ministry, and Campus Ministry, all of which are ACY.

Many of those who graduated from CYMPLE are now serving as Parish Youth Ministry chairs, while many others are helping ACY in its formation programs and other activities.