By Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News, The Catholic Register
[Toronto – Canadian Catholic News] – National Evangelization Team (NET) Canada, one of Canada’s largest Catholic youth missionary organizations, debuted a podcast on Jan. 18 called Youth Ministry 101, with new episodes to drop every two weeks.
the podcast will allow the organization to engage and journey directly with more youth, said Matthew Bentler, a communications intern for NET Canada who hails from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
“We have wanted to find ways to help more people journey with the youth in their own lives, and we had the right team to make it possible this year,” said Bentler. “We were able to form a communications team this year whose sole responsibility is to help get NET’s message out there — the core Gospel message of Jesus Christ and how to evangelize youth effectively.”
It’s hoped Youth Ministry 101 will facilitate some fascinating conversations on youth ministry and “reach a different demographic than we normally can,” he said.
NET Canada, headquartered in Ottawa, is predominantly known for in-person evangelization. For over 25 years, teams of young adults have visited schools and churches to share their love of Christ and help youth transform and revitalize their Catholic faith.
Seeing the rise of podcasting as a medium to reach people, NET Canada is jumping on the trend to use it to connect to more people.
“Since smartphone usage has gone up considerably, podcasts have seen a considerable increase in listeners, now with over two million podcast shows being produced,” said Bentler. “We wanted to see how creating a space for conversations about youth ministry could help shine the light of Christ into this new and ever-shifting medium.”
According to the website Podcast Insights, the two million podcasts in 2021 quadruples the approximately 500,000 podcasts online in 2018.
Bentler co-hosts Youth Ministry 101 alongside Julia Hartman, NET Canada’s recruiting coordinator. The goal of the podcast is shared in each episode’s opening tagline.
“The opening line from myself or my co-host, Julia, is ‘a podcast where you can learn tips, tricks and hear stories to help reach youth in your life, parish and youth group to share in the love and joy of Jesus Christ and His Church.’ ”
Episode one was entitled “Why Youth Ministry,” which aimed to understand the “why behind youth ministry.”
Bentler teased some of the topics that will be discussed on upcoming episodes.
“Different episodes discuss topics that provide youth ministry formation, (increasing) the effectiveness of Catholic youth ministry, (sharing) expertise, tips, tricks and stories to encourage and motivate people who care about youth ministry, and (uniting) youth ministers around the country toward bringing youth to Christ. Even if you aren’t involved in youth ministry or a young person yourself, we want to get people excited about this ministry opportunity for the youth — who are the future and the now of the Catholic Church.”
Bentler shared a quote from St. John Paul II’s address at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto that reflects the spirit of this pursuit.
“The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with Him in the building of the civilization of love.”
(Ducepec, 22, is a recent Bachelor of Science graduate from the University of Toronto.)