Youth Ministry

Next Session: Feb 24, 2025

The need to reach out to youth is a mission that the Catholic Church understands. Connecting with that mission is where the confusion lies. Although there are many who understand the importance of youth ministry, few Catholic ministers outside of youth ministry circles fully grasp the role and responsibilities of those who minister to young people.

Catholic youth ministry has evolved from its beginnings as the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization), to a holistic, comprehensive method to meet the spiritual, catechetical and social needs of younger and older adolescents. Helping those who minister to youth specifically (youth & campus ministers, pastors, liturgy and music directors and volunteers, teachers and coaches) and those who minister indirectly (pastoral teams and councils, pastoral staffs, parish members) is the purpose of this course. Understanding the components necessary to develop strategies towards this comprehensive approach is the goal of this course experience.

This course, authored by experienced youth ministers, is designed to advocate for youth ministers the importance of their ministry in the church. This course will unpack the 1997 U.S. Bishops' document regarding youth ministry, "Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry." We will explore both the practical and theoretical applications of this document for parish life.This course has been updated following the release of Pope Francis' post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit.

Course Content

Unit 1:The Goals of Youth Ministry

Unit 2: The Components of Youth Ministry

Unit 3: Responding to Today's Youth

Unit 4: Future Directions for Ministry with Adolescents

Course Format

  • Five weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All lecture text available online in course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (200-250 words) required.
  • Facilitator moderated Zoom sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Respond to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled Zoom sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Ms.Megan Shepherd, M. Div.

Ms.Megan Shepherd, M. Div.

Megan Shepherd serves as the Program Director of Notre Dame Vision where she helps nourish the Catholic imagination of the young church through the Notre Dame Vision summer conferences for high school students and their campus and youth ministry leaders.  She oversees all aspects of planning, recruitment, program management and the formation of undergraduates who serve as Mentors within the high school Vision program.  She also serves as a certified Spiritual Director in Ignatian Spirituality for the campus community and directs silent retreats through Campus Ministry. Joining the staff in 2010, Megan previously served as the assistant and associate director of Vision.


Megan received a Bachelors of Science in Pre-Professional Studies and Theology and a Masters of Divinity from the University of Notre Dame.  She has spent over twenty years working with young people in parish, high school and national settings including Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, NY, St. Giles Parish in Oak Park, IL, and Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, IL. She was part of the Founding Leadership Team for the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministry Leaders (NACYML) and serves in leadership roles within the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM).


Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Megan lives in South Bend with her two dogs, Theo and Zoey. When not cheering on the Steelers, she enjoys kayaking on the St. Joe river and visiting family.