This is Part 11 of a fifteen-part series called “The Vision of an Ideal Parish” based on an article by Dr. Peter Williamson published in 2016. This series is intended to return us to our original Faith Forward Vision.

I remember hearing about Ponce de Leon searching for the fountain of youth: a magical water source capable of reversing the aging process. Alas, never did he find it, nor does it seem that such a fountain exists. Yet now-a-days it seems that people search for their own fountain of youth through beauty products, weight loss programs, or even medical procedures. For weal or for woe, it seems that the search for youth is a part of the human desire.

But the problem isn't that we have a desire for youthfulness… the problem is that we have forgotten where true youthfulness is found. Youthfulness springs ever-anew from young people!

For example, think of a grandfather with a newborn grandchild. Doesn't the grandfather become renewed in energy with his grandchild? Or think of a grandmother chasing her granddaughter in a game "Get you, Get you" as they run around a dining room table. Or think again of an older sibling, usually grumpy from growing pains, building a pillow-fort for his four-year-old sister. Or still yet, think of an uncle who makes silly faces and blows "zerberts" on the cheeks of his nieces and nephews.

The fact is, we DO have a fountain of youth… it is the youth in our presence. It is they who cause us to forget the burdens of old age and revert to silliness ourselves. If only we could convince our culture that the fountain of youth is the blessing of children! As the bible says,

"Children are…like arrows in the hand of a warrior…blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them!" (Ps 127:3-5).

And again,

"Jesus called a little child to him…and said… whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me" (Matthew 18:2-6).

You see, an ideal parish is a parish filled with young people! Just as a child is the true "fountain of youth" to a family so, too, children are the "fountain of youth" of our parish. And with Jesus I shout out-loud, "Let the children come!"

How wonderful it is to have a phenomenal youth ministry program! How proud I am of families that bring their children to PSR, CGS, Blaze, or Ignite! How amazing our Catholic schools are for us! Because of them our parish is young!Because of them we are all reminded of the innocence of youth, the need for joy, the struggle for learning, the drama of life, and the excitement of discovering our childhood in God the Father!

So, Ponce de Leon, keep your fountain! And, pharmacies, fie on your product. Our youth is in our young people. Let them come to us and renew us in our own youthfulness!

Father Jarrod Lies, Pastor