“God loves you, Christ saves you, Christ is alive!” According to Pope Francis, these three truths are something “we should never keep quiet about” (Christus Vivit, 111). They should be central to all our ministries, especially in our work with youth.

In a concerted effort to embody these truths and become more effective youth ministers for the current generation, the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, hosted the 2nd International Conference on Youth Ministry last April 4 to 6, 2024 which brought youth and campus ministers and individuals together who are actively involved in guiding and caring for youth from across Southeast Asia, and some parts of Europe and America. Representing our school at the conference were four campus ministers from the Higher Education Community: Ms. Gina Baltazar, Ms. Fritzie Podunas, Mr. Anthony Polistico, and Ms. Ma. Catherine Rebote.

The ICYM 2024 continued its focus on the Science of Youth Ministry through Plenary Keynote Addresses by Professor of Youth Ministry Fr. Jerome Vallabaraj SDB, who spoke on “Bridging the Generation Gap to ‘Behold’ the Young” and “Empowering the Young Towards Fullness of Life for All.” In addition, Ms. Karen Joy Caramoan from SeeWorthy International led a dynamic session on “Effective Engagement with Millennials and Gen Z.” This was followed by panel discussions that engaged participants in meaningful conversations on understanding the context of youth with the hope of discovering new ways to connect, inspire, and support them and the communities they serve.

The Holy Mass was celebrated daily at the conference, with everyone gathering to be nourished by Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. This gathering served as a reminder to each of us of the complete sustenance found in God alone, as we receive Him constantly in the Eucharist.

The afternoon sessions offered skills training and workshops designed to enhance the capabilities of youth ministers. These workshops covered various topics, including technology and evangelization, music, retreat and recollection facilitation, counseling, spiritual direction, conflict management, financial literacy, and other relevant skills.

The concluding session of ICYM2024 featured a particular morning plenary session with Fr. Johnny Go SJ of the Ateneo de Manila’s Gokongwei Brothers School of Education and Learning Design. The session titled “Youth Ministry Planning and Strategy Towards a Fullness of Life for All” aimed to create meaning for the campus ministers by delving into youth ministry program design, planning, and strategizing. It provided conversation pieces facilitating thought-provoking ideas and realities, allowing the campus ministers to draw valuable insights from their own contexts and experiences.

Through this enriching experience, the Campus Ministers aimed to develop their ability to address further the concerns, needs, problems, and issues faced by today’s youth. Their ultimate goal is to remain relevant in their programs and, most importantly, to continue cultivating a ministry of accompaniment, guiding the youth to the truth that God loves them, saves them, and is alive – Alleluia! Alleluia!