Jesus Youth is an international Catholic youth movement with a charismatic spirituality. It had its beginnings in Kerala (India), but is now active in nearly 25 different countries around the world. Jesus Youth is an initiative of young people themselves, who, filled with the Holy Spirit try to reach out to other young people. The strength of the movement is its special focus on a life centered on the Lord Jesus Christ: beginning with an experience of God nourished by prayer, the Word of God, the sacraments and fellowship, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others.Though not an actual community, Jesus Youth is a network of small but vibrant groups of young people. In their own life situations, they strive to give time to the Lord, responding to the challenges of today's world in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Charismatic Renewal swept through the churches of the picturesque state of Kerala (India) in the late 1970s, touching the hearts of young people, leading to the formation of youth groups. In the early 80s, these groups grew rapidly and in 1985, the International Year for Youth, these groups came together with a single name: Jesus Youth, seeking a clearer vision for themselves and for the wider participation of young people in the Church. Over the years the movement has grown and developed, to other parts of India in the 1990s and later to different parts of the world.
Jesus Youth is active in nearly 25 countries and has a national network and a definite infrastructure in countries like USA, Canada, Italy, Ireland, UK, Germany, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. There are regional teams and groups in countries like Austria, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Cambodia. In India, Jesus Youth has an active presence in more than 140 areas covering every state of India except Himachal Pradesh.
Jesus Youth members seek to grow as faithful disciples of Christ, through the six pillars of the movement.
Daily Prayer: A daily ‘quiet time' with the Lord leading to an experience of the companionship of Jesus, enables one to have a joyful attitude in daily life.
Word of God: A regular time for a meditative reading of the Sacred Scripture helps one to seek God's guidance and shape his life according to God's will.
Sacraments: Frequent and active participation in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation contributes to a life of wholeness and strength and are integral to a person's growth in holiness.
Fellowship: Christian life, a call to live the life of the Trinity in communion with one's brothers and sisters in Christ through mutual support, encouragement and gentle correction, is an important element in the movement. Cells, small groups, prayer groups, service teams and friendship circles help to make Jesus Youth a family.
Service: Following the footsteps of the Master who brought the Good News to the poor, Jesus Youth stretches out a helping hand to those burdened with poverty and deprivation.
Evangelisation: Personal renewal in Jesus leads to a commitment to share the person and message of Jesus with others. This commitment to evangelisation is central to the life of every Jesus Youth.
Individual spiritual direction and various Jesus Youth Formation Programmes also contribute to a member's faithful discipleship and growth in holiness.
Distinguishing characteristics of the Movement
1.Youth reaching out to youth: As witnesses of the joy of a life in Christ and in service of the Church.
2.Ongoing faith and human formation: Through Jesus Youth groups and training programmes, encouraged by the six pillars.
3.Using the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: For growth in personal holiness, service in the community and proclamation of the Good News.
4.Forming youth for missionary commitment: In response to the divine mandate and the call of the Church.
5.Witnessing to the Lord in the rapidly changing modern context: Among children, students, those in parishes, the poor and the suffering, working professionals, young married couples and families, aided by the use of technology and modern mass media.
6.Participation in Fellowship groups: In many places, small cells and prayer groups are gradually evolving into committed communities.
7.Rooted in the Church and committed to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue:While incorporating effectively into ecclesiastical structures and pastoral plans.
8.Close interaction, collaboration and networking among individuals, ministries and fellowship groups: Modern means of travel, media and communication establish Jesus Youth as a close-knit ecclesial family.
9.Becoming a Jesus Youth: Not by a formal enrolment, but by a step by step interiorisation of the Jesus Youth lifestyle and participation in fellowship and mission.
In Jesus Youth, a variety of support systems have evolved to foster continued growth in Christian commitment.
1. COMMUNITY BASED GATHERINGS/ FELLOWSHIP GATHERINGS
a) Cell groups
In Jesus Youth, young people and families are encouraged to come together regularly for prayer and fellowship. Such steadily growing cells, with 5 to 10 members, ensure their ongoing spiritual formation and are important means for mutual enrichment and spiritual guidance.
b) Small groups
These groups can be hosted in homes, offices, colleges, etc. Maximum number for such a group is 15 so when the group numbers around 12, it is time to multiply, i.e., split the group into two. Jesus Youth Prayer and study materials are key tools in these small group gatherings.
c) Prayer groups
A group that gathers together every week for prayer, teaching and fellowship creates a favourable environment for personal growth and ministry building in Jesus Youth. A Prayer Meeting could comprise of an informal but lively time of praise and worship, a Spirit- filled Bible teaching/sharing and a time of intercession and interaction.
d) Service teams
Jesus Youth co-ordinating teams at different levels are known as Service Teams. Each team consists of a Co-ordinator, a Pastor, one or more Animator/s and members.
2. FORMATION PROGRAMME PACKAGES
a) Faith formation
For the personal growth of members, in addition to the regular fellowship groups, there is a wide range of formation programmes in the Jesus Youth Movement:
•Jesus Youth Fulltime Volunteers:-Year- long training for young people (preferably graduates) consisting of 40 days of orientation and a one year fulltime commitment to work in different places.
•History Makers:-Four days of lifestyle orientation for those completing High School.
•Discipleship Training Programmes (DTP):-Week- long training programme for young people aged between sixteen and eighteen.
•Master Builders:-Fifteen- day life oriented leadership training for new graduates.
•Junior Evangelisers Training (JET):-Year- long training for effective youth leadership consisting of four 3-day sessions, regular follow-up and guidance
b) Formation of leaders and animators
• National and International Leaders' Training
• National and International Animators' Training
c) Formation in life situations
Jesus Youth ministries are founded on a firm spiritual basis and flourish in the context of growing fellowships and specific life situations:
•Parish Ministry:-Being a movement which is at the service of the Church, it is a constant thrust of Jesus Youth to be a catalyst in parishes, promoting a Jesus centered life among youth.
•Teens Ministry:-The ministry aims at the all round development of teenage students, ranging from 8th to 12th standards, through initiatives and sustained formation programmes which will result in their faith formation and character formation.
•Professionals Ministry:-Professionals' ministry is active among working professionals, networking them to bring Jesus to their workplaces.
•Nurses Ministry:-Comprising of nursing students, staff nurses and tutors, the ministry aims to assist in the formation of a Christian Nurse and to inculcate in them the spirit of mission.
•Campus Ministry:-The ministry celebrates, in the context of universities and professional institutions and other colleges, the commitment, vigour and vitality of youth living in Christ.
In addition, two Ministries form the Backbone of all Jesus Youth activities.
•Intercession ministry:-This is the powerhouse of the Jesus Youth Movement, active through fasting, prayers, chain prayers, night vigils and intercession retreats.
•Finance ministry:-Jesus Youth raises funds with the aid of commitment cards, tithes, and voluntary donations.
d) Talent oriented formation
•The Rex Band:-Over 25 professionals active in various fields with a distinctive talent in music and theatre, reach out to today's urbanised youth through music albums, stage shows and encounter programmes.
•Music Ministry:-It trains young men and women with musical abilities to make use of those talents for the glory of God and His Kingdom.
•Audio visual Ministry:-Theatrical arts are used for youth formation and evangelisation and to communicate the message of Jesus, through skits, mimes, choreography, etc
•Media Ministry:-It provides all kinds of media support (videos, podcasts, websites, blogs, social networking community, newsletters, booklets, etc) for JY activities.
•Exhibition Ministry:-It is an initiative to communicate the message of God's love through posters, paintings, collages and sculpture, amongst other mediums.
e) Formation through reach out programmes
•Angels' Army:-An initiative for children up to the age of 12, the ministry helps parents to bring up their children like Jesus, in wisdom and in favour with God and man.
•Outreach Ministry:-Makes visits to jails, hospitals, orphanages, slums, old age homes and among street children to share the love of Jesus with them.
•Prolife Ministry:-It trains young people to take a stand against the culture of death and to challenge others to stand for the same.
•Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP):-Visits of tribal and rural youth are hosted by Jesus Youth to build up young people in their social and missionary commitment.
•Exposure programmes:-Jesus Youth also organises numerous mission experience trips by parish youth, professionals and others.
3. CONFERENCES AND MEETS
These play a very important role in training youth to be active in their Christian life and witness.
a) Regional, national and inter- continental conferences
b) Campus Meet, Nurses' Meet, Teens' Meet, etc
A Jesus Youth group exists in a locality (parish, institution, work site, etc.) and is comprised of a number of cells and small groups and is coordinated by a Core Team. A Zonal Team co-ordinates the Jesus Youth groups and ministries in a zonal area. A number of zones or a state constitutes a region and it is co-ordinated by a Regional Jesus Youth Team. At the national level, the co-ordination is done by the National Team and the Jesus Youth International Team co-ordinates all these National Teams.
Being a Catholic movement, Jesus Youth is accountable to the Catholic Hierarchy of each area and functions under the guidance of the local Catholic Bishops. The selection of a Jesus Youth Team is the result of a process of discernment by a Discerning Community, guided by a Discernment Team. The whole process is done in a spirit of prayer and confidentiality to facilitate the work of the Holy Spirit and the building up of the Christian Community.
On 29th October 2008, Jesus Youth received the approval from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) and His Grace Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara was appointed as the Ecclesiastical Advisor.The process of being recognised as an ‘International Private Association of Christian Faithful of Pontifical Right' officially began on 24th August 2009 with the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Officially, Jesus Youth is a member of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships – an international private association of members of the faithful having juridical personality in accordance with Canon 322 of the Code of Canon Law.