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Creaster Youth Coming . . . Again!  
Robert J. McCarty, DMIN  

This season is when our parishes are packed with "Creaster" Catholics - those who seem to only attend on Christmas and Easter. Although this can be frustrating for parish leaders, youth attendance reflects a hunger for connecting.

We should attend to two practical issues for liturgical celebrations to be moments of evangelization and faith. First, Creasters often don't know what to do at Mass. They might be unsure when to sit, stand, or kneel. This causes a degree of self-consciousness that hinders their active participation during Mass. Furthermore, their confusion prevents their understanding or appreciation for the mystery unfolding in the liturgy. Here are some ways to help.

Print instructions in the worship aid. If announcements are made before Mass, mention the helpful information these brochures contain regarding posture.

Ushers and greeters would do well to be attentive to strangers and unfamiliar faces. Direct the newcomer's attention to the directions that are included in the worship aid.

Cantors and presiders help the assembly through gesture. A motion can inform to sit or stand, and eye contact welcomes participation in song and prayer.

Second, in addition to not knowing "how" to celebrate, Creasters may not really understand "what" is being celebrated. Presiders should not make assumptions about the catechetical training that families have received. They come to Mass at Christmas because they intuit the significance of the birth of Jesus. This provides an opportunity to reflect on the doctrine of the Incarnation. We are reminded that all of life and creation is sacred, and that as God became present to humanity, we are challenged to be present to each other, to be Good News in the flesh for others. This Christmas, with a little attention, our parishes will be good news for our young Church.

Robert J. McCarty, DMIN
is Executive Director for the National Federation for the Catholic Youth Ministry, www.nfcym.org.

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