A Brief Chronology of the 
US Catholic Youth MovementClick here for Home

   The below chronology is a work in progress. The information on this page is based on the research I had done at the time. Subsequent research might bring to light new facts which might require corrections.

1883 - The first Newman Club is founded in 1883.

1915 - The Federation of College Catholic Clubs is founded.
1916 -The Catholic Boys' Brigade was founded.

1918 -The National Catholic War Council is established by the American Catholic Bishops.

1923 -The Knights of Columbus established the Boy Life Bureau, with Brother Barnabas, FSC as the executive director.

1925 -The K of C's established the Columbian Squire for boys aged 15-18 as a junior order.

1930 - On 11 June 1930, Bishop Bernard Sheil held a press conference to announce the formation of the CYO in the archdiocese of Chicago. While an archdiocesan ministry, its charter was unique in its day, in that the CYO would be open to all, regardless of religious faith. Dioceses across the country would adopt Chicago's CYO model to minister to their Catholic youth.

1931 - The National Catholic Council of Women (NCCW) sponsored a Catholic Youth Conference for the various Catholic girls' organizations so they "could become better acquainted with the needs of the whole field."

1932 - The second Conference on Organization of Catholic Youth in the United States was convened under the sponsorship of the NCCW.

1933 -The NCCM organized the Catholic Youth Bureau as a separate division of the NCWC to serve "as a clearing house for the collection and distribution of information regarding the aims, ideals, programs, and physical composition of youth organizations and movements; to encourage and to assist existing, approved organizations without supplanting them in any way." The director was Rev Vincent Mooney.* During the NCCW convention, the importance of Catholic youth was highlighted in an address by Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, the Apostolate Delegate to the United States. In his remarks, Cicognani called on the laity to focus on the development of the Catholic youth movement, as part of their participation in Catholic Action. Archbishop Samuel A. Stritch of Milwaukee, "made a plea for the integration of the youth movement in the general program of Catholic Action and particularly for sponsorship by the National Council of Catholic Women of the youth apostolate for Catholic girls and young ladies" at the conference.

1934 - The NCCW held another conference on Catholic youth work and the following day the NCCM held a similar one at the Welfare Council's office.*Due to a lack of funds, the NCCM suspended the Catholic Youth Bureau, after 6 months of operation.

1935 -The first National Clergy Youth Leaders' Conference was held at Notre Dame University. *Bishop John F. Noll (Ft. Wayne), chairman of the NCWC Department of Lay Organizations, held a meeting to discuss ways and means of extending Catholic youth organizations in the United States. Participants included: Archbishops Mitty and Rummel; Bishops Sheil, Hafey and Donahue; Rev. John Burke, and Rev Msgr Michael Ready, NCWC general secretary and assistant, respectively; Rev Vincent Mooney, director NCCM Catholic Youth Bureau; and representatives from the NCCS, NCEA, NCCM, and the NCCW.*The NCCW hosted the first Youth Institute at the National Catholic School of Social Service.

1936 - The NCCW hosted the second national Youth Institute at the National Catholic School of Social Service; thereafter, regional institutes were held, starting in 1937.

1937 -The Administrative Board, NCWC, established the NCWC Catholic Youth Bureau, which took over the functions of the defunct NCCM Catholic Youth Bureau. The director of this new office was Fr. Mooney. * The first NCCW sponsored regional Youth Conference was held in Salt Lake City. * The NCCW sponsored a successful radio program entitled "Call to Youth" in 1937. The program was carried by NBC and aired every Saturday evening, from February through May. The program consisted of a well -known speaker giving "a fifteen-minute talk about one of the saints in a lively manner designed to appeal to young listeners and to provide them with examples to follow." The program aired for four years. America's entry into the Second World War was the cause of the program's eventual demise. *The National Federation of Catholic College Students (NFCCS) was created.

1938 -The NCWC adopted a resolution discontinuing the Bishop's Committee on Scouting and establishing, with the same personnel, an Episcopal Committee on Youth. *Working in collaboration with the Administrative Board, NCWC, the Episcopal Committee on Youth was empowered to set up a National Catholic Youth Council (NCYC) with the director of the NCWC Catholic Youth Bureau serving as executive secretary. *The Federation of College Catholic Clubs is renamed the National Newman Club Federation (NNCF).

1940 -Cardinal Pizzardo, President of the Central Office of Catholic Action, sent a letter to the US Bishops expressing his desire that the numerous groups of US Catholic youth be united in a "National Catholic Youth Council...in order better to promote Christian ideals and better safeguard the young from the many pitfalls they encounter." *The Administrative Board, NCWC established the NCWC Youth Department. The Most Rev John A Duffy of Buffalo was selected as the chairman with the Most Rev Richard Gerow of Natchez as his assistant. Bishops Sheil, Kelley and Muench served as advisors to Bishop Duffy on the CYO, Scouting, and Rural Youth Problems, respectively. *The first Annual Diocesan Youth Directors' Conference was held in New Orleans. This Conference preceded the 7th Annual Diocesan Scout Chaplains' Conference.

1941 -Archbishop Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the US, sent a letter to the US diocesan youth directors, which has since been referred to as the "Magna Carta for Youth." The main recommendation of his letter was that the numerous youth groups, combined with the size of the US, required a greater need for coordination. However, he specifically stressed "coordination...not unification or exaggerated centralization." *Archbishop Cushing succeeded Bishop Duffy as Episcopal Chairman of the Youth Department, NCWC. *Archbishop Cushing asked Bishop Gerow to be his assistant chairman.

1945 -Rev Charles E. Bermingham was named as the director of the NCWC Youth Department, succeeding Rev. Paul F. Tanner, who was appointed assistant general secretary, NCWC.

1947 -The first National Conference on Catholic Youth Work was held in Cleveland. The 9th Annual Conference of Diocesan Scout Chaplains was held at the same time.

1951 -The first convention of the National Council of Catholic Youth (NCCY) was held in conjunction with the 3rd National Catholic Youth Conference in Cincinnati. *Archbishop Mitty, episcopal chairman, NCWC Youth Department, appointed Regional Youth Directors, who formed Regional Councils of Catholic Youth. They in turn formed the National Federation of Diocesan Catholic Youth Councils (NFDCYC) *The National Catholic Camping Association (NCCA) was formed. *The first National C.Y.O Week was opened on the Feast of Christ the King. This was initiated by the NCWC Youth Department director, Msgr. Joseph Schieder. Thereafter it was called the National Catholic Youth Week.

1954 -The first Annual Catholic Youth National Communion Sunday on the Feast of Christ the King with more than 3 million participants. This same day also marked the opening of the Annual National Holy Communion Crusade of Catholic Youth and both occurred at the opening of the National of National Catholic Youth Week.

1961 -The National Catholic Youth Organization Federation (NCYOF) was established as a replacement of the Diocesan Section of the NCCY, with teenage and young adult sections.

1962 - Shieder left the Youth Department, replaced by Rev. Frederick J. Stevenson at the Youth Department.

1966 - Stevenson served as the last director of the Youth Department, when the bishops transformed the Welfare Conference into two organizations – the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) in 1966. The reorganization caused the Youth Department to be downgraded to a division – Youth Activities – within the Department of Christian Formation of the USCC. The new director of the Division of Youth Activities was Rev. Thomas J. Leonard.

1971 - The Young Adult Section of the NCYOF was abandoned. The representative for Campus and Young Adult Ministry in the Department of Education, USCC assumed responsibility for organizing the church's efforts for young adults.

1972 -The NCCB document To Teach as Jesus Did is the first official US Catholic publication to use the term "Youth Ministry." *The National Conference of Catholics in Youth Serving Agencies (NCCYSA) was renamed the National Conference on Catholic Youth Work (NCCYW).

1974 -The NCCYW became the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry (NCCYM).

1975 -The Advisory Board for Youth Activities, USCC, commissioned a paper on total youth ministry, which eventually became A Vision of Youth Ministry document, published in 1976.* Father Leonard was replaced by Rev. Rudy Beranek as director of Youth Activities.

1978 - Beranek was replaced as director of Youth Activities by the first non-religious and the first woman to hold this position – Marisa Guerin.

1979 -The Advisory Board for Youth Activities, USCC commissioned a paper on adolescent catechesis.

1981 -The director of the USCC Division of Youth Activities was demoted and was now referred to as the Representative for Youth Activities (USCC). Guerin left the USCC and was replaced by John S. Farnsworth.

1982 - The NCYOF was dissolved and the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) was established.

1984 – Farnsworth left the USCC and was replaced by Sister Faith Mauro, RSM. Sister Mauro's position changed during her tenure, as her portfolio was enlarged to encompass young adult ministry, in addition to youth ministry.

1986 -The NFCYM published The Challenge of Adolescent Catechesis: Maturing in Faith, which was the paper the Advisory Board, USCC had commissioned but never published. *Fransworth wrote a monograph reflecting on where Catholic youth ministry had been the previous ten years, and the future – "A Vision Remembered."

1988 - Sister Mauro left the USCC in 1988 and was replaced by Paul K. Henderson, who served not as the USCC Representative for Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the Department of Education, but as the Special Assistant for Youth and Young Adults in the USCC's Secretariat for Laity and Family. Eventually Henderson was transferred to the NCCB's parallel secretariat as an associate director, which was also expanded to include Family, Laity, Women and Youth.

1991 -The NFCYM and the NCCB sponsored a National Youth Congress in Indianapolis.

1993 - Henderson was responsible for organizing, as the host, the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver.

1996 - With the upcoming millennium, Henderson was named the director of the USCC's Office of the Millenium, and was replaced by Ana Villamil in 1996.

1998 - Villamil by Michelle Miller. By this time Miller's position was further downgraded to that of a Program Specialist for Youth and Young Adult Activities within the secretariat.

2001 - Miller was replaced by Barbara Anderson. At this time, the bishops decided that the Welfare Conference model looked better and merged the NCCB and the USCC to form the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on 1 July 2001.

2005 - Miller left the USCCB and was replaced by Sister Eileen McCann, CSJ, who serves as the Program Coordinator for the Youth and Young Adult Subcommittee in the USCCB's Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth.



NCCM/NCWC/USCC Youth Directors

The declining interest in Catholic Youth Ministry by the hierarchy can be demonstrated by the evolving position of the bishops' national youth director. From the Director of a Department for some 30 years, to just one of many program coordinators buried deep within the bishops' organization, the importance of Catholic youth to the bishops has dwindled since 1966. In looking at the position that McCann occupies today and the position Mooney held in 1933, one could say that the importance of Catholic youth ministry has come full circle: at least within the hierarchy.

1933 - Rev. Vincent Mooney, CSC (Director: NCCM Youth Bureau)

1937 - Rev. Vincent Mooney, CSC (Director: NCWC Youth Department)

1942 - Rev. Paul Francis Tanner (Director: NCWC Youth Department)

1945 - Rev. Charles E. Bermingham (Director: NCWC Youth Department)

1948 - Rev. Joseph E. Schieder (Director: NCWC Youth Department)

1962 - Rev. Frederick J. Stevenson (Director: NCWC Youth Department)

1966 - Rev. Thomas J. Leonard (Director: Division of Youth Activities;     Department of Christian Formation; USCC)

1974 - Rev Rudy Beranek (Director: Division of Youth Activities; Department of Education; USCC)

1978 - Marisa Guerin (USCC Representative for Youth Activities)

1981 - John S. Farnsworth (USCC Representative for Youth Activities)

1984 - Sr. Faith Mauro, RSM (Representative for Youth and Young Adult Ministry: Department of Education, USCC)

1988 - Paul K. Henderson (Special Assistant for Youth and Young Adults:  Secretariat for Laity and Family, USCC)

1996 - Ana Villamil (Associate Director: USCC Secretariat for Family, Laity,   Women and Youth)

1998 - Michelle Miller (Program Specialist for Youth & Young Adult Activities; Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth, USCC)

2001 - Barbara Anderson (Program Coordinator: Youth and Young Adult  Subcommittee, Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth, USCCB)

2005 - Sr. Eileen McCann, CSJ (Program Coordinator: Youth and Young Adult Subcommittee; Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth, USCCB)



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