Discussing Tragic Events in a Youth Community
This past week has been a difficult one for our communities. The shooting of Mike Brown brings forth all sorts of emotions and questions. Yet, despite the overwhelming tragedy in Ferguson and its troubling aftermath, we can be consoled with the knowledge that our God is no stranger to heartbreak. Jesus enters into our messes. Jesus is present with us in our grief. And in this way, Jesus models for us the ministry of presence. Jesus shows us that to serve, the most important step is the first step: Show Up.
We may feel intimidated by these discussions. We may feel inadequate to lead them. But our youth need a safe space to tell their stories and process their feelings. They need us to come forth as servant leaders – leaders who are ready to cry with them, to struggle alongside them, to listen to them. Many of the questions that come along with these discussions do not have easy answers. Enter into them anyway.
There are no road maps for these discussions. Each discussion will be different depending on your context. (For example: What is the racial makeup of your parish? The racial makeup of the surrounding area? The schools your youth attend? How close, geographically, are you to Ferguson, MO? Do you have youth/children who have family members in law enforcement? Youth/children who have family members who have died because of gun violence? We must keep in mind all of these questions and be sensitive to them). You will need to adapt things to make these discussions your own, but in the link below you will find a framework to get you started. Below I’ve written some steps to consider and attached a page of resources for further inspiration.
Danielle Dowd is the Diocesan Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Missouri