|Bill Staley, Director of the Diocese of Nashville’s Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, speaks to teens at the 2015 Catholic Youth Leadership Workshop at Camp Hillmont near White Bluff, Tennessee. Staley has been selected to serve on a leadership committee for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. Tennessee Register file photo by Rick Musacchio|
Bill Staley, Director of the Diocese of Nashville’s Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, has been taking his leadership gifts and skills to a whole new level lately.
Since 2010, he has been a member of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. The Federation, partnering with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, seeks to support youth ministers and parents as they form young people in the Catholic faith. Its programming includes opportunities for adult faith formation and leadership development, training for new diocesan CYO directors, opportunities to get involved in social justice advocacy, and conferences for Catholic teenagers and their adult chaperones.
This past year, Staley has served on a committee to implement a new strategic plan for the Federation that will help it communicate the Gospel message more effectively to teenagers in youth groups across the country.
“The Federation has established seven implementation teams after years of surveys and updating our mission, vision and values,” Staley said. “Each implementation team is led by a team leader, which is my role, and is composed of eight to 10 ministry professionals from around the country. Our particular area of work will be in implementing the transition of a bureaucratic style of structure for the work we do to a more streamlined effort of project teams that will still have sound oversight by our board of directors, but will allow our membership to be more agile in our working organization.”
The main challenge the Federation seeks to address is how to equip teenagers to share the Gospel in a country marked by an increase in cultural diversity, technological innovation, and moral relativism that is hostile to Catholic beliefs and practices.
“We must look forward to prayerfully anticipate our changing Church, namely in the youth we serve,” Staley explained. “Dioceses all over the country are seeing changes in what was the status quo for a great part of the recent history. Our Church here in America is growing in diversity of culture, technology has greatly impacted the generation of millennials we are serving now and will most assuredly have a greater impact on the following generations.
“Articulation of our faith and our Church’s teachings are crucial in a world where lines are blurred, tolerance is waning, and a climate of polarization is setting in upon us,” he added. “The NFCYM is setting our sights on new ways to function as a national entity. What does our membership look like? What initiatives are working? Is the audience we serve growing? Are we a national or international organization?
“At our last national conference, it was live streamed and people from all over the world tuned in. We are assessing all of these big questions and more,” Staley said.
“Our goal is to get our drafts to the board as working implementation teams in September and they will be presented to our membership in February 2017 in Pittsburgh.”
Staley has seen many changes in youth ministry just in the Diocese of Nashville alone over the past six years. “Ever since I started six years ago, Catholic youth ministry has been growing and innovating,” he said. “Our own office has transitioned its title and audience from just ‘CYO’ to ‘Youth and Young Adults.’ Locally, we’ve seen parish ministries grow, missions expand internationally, and focus on vocations help so many find their calling.”
But, Staley has found that one thing among youth has stayed the same: namely, their yearning to follow Jesus.
“Two things have been constant in my work with the youth: young people are hungry for an extraordinary life with Christ, and we must adore Christ in the Eucharist and be more articulate about His true presence on our altars and in our tabernacles around the world,” he said.