The Catholic equivalents, the Catholic Young Men’s Society (CYMS) and the Young Christian Workers (YCW), continue today, but have never provided any official significant training for the youth ministry leaders of these programs which are seen as a ‘stepping stone’ into other areas of church ministry. In recent decades, the principal focus of Catholic youth work activity has focused around Catholic secondary colleges, university chaplaincies and World Youth Day in recent decades.
Prior to 1885, the Boston YMCA had begun to employ ‘gymnasium superintendents’ which led to the training of ‘physical directors’. David Allen Reed (1850 – 1932), a Congregationalist minister, wanted to provide training for lay workers employed at churches, YMCAs and related institutions in quasi-chaplain roles. Supported by the beliefs of Luther Halsey Gulick (1865 – 1918), a YMCA employee during the late 1800s, who strongly believed in ‘the unity of body, mind and spirit’ through physical education and recreational activities, Reed’s actions led to the creation of the YMCA College in 1885, in Springfield, Massachusetts, giving credence to an activity conservative Christians had previously shown little regard for (Limbert 1957). So began the history of youth work education.
Youth Chaplaincy in Victoria
The Melbourne Anglican archdiocese has regional youth officers operating under a youth ministry coordinator. They provide consultancy to parishes, support parish clergy in developing a vision for youth ministry, run training camps for youth leaders and hold camps and other events for young people. The Greek Orthodox Church has a central Youth Committee for Victoria. Catholic Social Services lists only Marist Youth Care under the Youth Training and Support banner but there is the Melbourne Archdiocesan Office for Youth with the Sri Lankan priest, Dishan Candappa, and the director, Jess Denehy. Its mission is to inspire and engage young people in the life and mission of the Catholic Church. Its patrons are Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and St Mary MacKillop. As part of Australasia’s largest Catholic diocese, it helps organise the biennial Australian Catholic Youth Festival with the most recent one held in December 2017 and participates in World Youth Day, the most recent of which was held on 22–27 January 2019 in Panama City, Panama, it was the first of its kind celebrated in Central America.