About the Accompaniment Project
The Accompaniment Project is a grant-funded initiative of NFCYM that seeks to guide parishes through reimagining how to accompany all young people encountering Christ and growing in discipleship. The Accompaniment Project is not a program, but rather, it is an experimental approach to youth ministry that helps parishes meet the needs of the young people in their communities.
To accomplish this, the Accompaniment Project will:
- Identify and work with a cohort of forty diverse parishes across at least five dioceses to develop, test, and evaluate new, experimental approaches to ministry with youth.
- Gather the participating parishes regularly for mutual learning as they design and test innovative ministries with youth.
- Share insights and discoveries with other parishes and ministry organizations about new effective ministry practices and strategies for engaging youth.
Apply to Take Part in the Project
The Accompaniment Project seeks to guide parishes through a strategic planning process where they will be challenged to create and implement an experimental approach to youth ministry that specifically meets the needs of their young people.
In September 2023, NFCYM will launch the Accompaniment Project, a three-year pilot coaching process for forty diverse Catholic parishes from at least five dioceses. The goal will be to help them move beyond the traditional age-specific youth group model and explore what is possible when models of youth ministry that are responsive to the needs of young people are embraced.
- September 5 – Online application window opens
- September 29 – Online application window closes
- September 29 to October 3 – Selection team reviews applications
- October 6 – Finalists are notified
- October 9 to 27 – Interviews take place with finalists
- November 27 – Parishes chosen are announced
Apply today! Applications open until September 29
Coming soon, you will find resources like a Pastor Information Sheet, a Diocesan Director Information Sheet, and a preview of the application questions in English and in Spanish.
In order to apply, you must have your pastor’s approval. Click the button below to access a Pastor Information Sheet to find more information to share with your pastor about the project.
Planning on applying? View the application questions in advance.
What is expected from the diocesan director after parishes in their diocese are chosen? Click the button below to access the Diocesan Director Informational Sheet to find more information.
Parishes should apply for the Accompaniment Project because our current methods for forming young disciples are failing. Young people are leaving the church in record numbers. The Accompaniment Project aims to reverse that trend. In most Catholic communities, the job of forming youth in faith has been delegated to a youth minister, a small group of adults, catechists or to a particular youth community.
By contrast, the Accompaniment Project seeks to build mutual relationships between youth and members of the parish; relationships with peers, family, faith companions and the whole faith community. Any parish that would like resources as well as a coach to guide them in how to accompany young people on their journey of discipleship is encouraged to apply for this project.
On the parish level, parish leaders are encouraged to enter a strategic planning process to reimagine their approach to ministry with high school youth. This is not a program, so the project leaders are not asking parishes to adopt a new curriculum. The Accompaniment Project is asking parish leaders to think on a larger scale about all of the young people in their community. From there, the goal is to find innovative ways of forming adults to be faith companions who accompany young people on their journey of discipleship. The forty parishes selected for the Accompaniment Project will embark on an experiment to test innovative ways of accompanying young people as they encounter Jesus Christ and commit to living a life of discipleship. How the parishes attempt to reach their young people will vary based on each parish’s needs, but the formation and resources needed to train the adults will be provided by NFCYM.
As part of the project, each parish will receive formation, resources, and support.
- An initial training offered to parish leaders and their Accompaniment Steering Committee
- Ongoing formation based on needs surfaced during the project
- All resources for the parish training sessions needed to implement the Accompaniment Project
(PowerPoints, handouts, leader guides, videos, etc.)
- The opportunity to apply for a matching grant up to $10,000 to assist in implementing the parish’s strategic plans
- NFCYM-appointed coach to guide parish leaders through the 3-year process
- Network of 8 parishes in each cohort for mutual support, shared learning, and accompaniment
All forty of the parishes involved in the Accompaniment Project will be asked to commit to the project for three years. The first six months of the project (estimated to begin March 2024) will include training for the parish leaders and coaching on developing strategic plans with the steering committees. Each parish will then have two years to implement their strategic plans, from September 2024-August 2026. The final six months will contain time for reflection, evaluation, and sharing of learnings with the wider Catholic Church.
Since the project is grant-funded, there is no cost to be a part of the Accompaniment Project. The training, resources, and NFCYM-appointed coach are all provided at no cost to the parish. The only possible cost would be related to the implementation of the parish’s strategic plan. These costs would be determined by each individual parish. NFCYM will offer matching grants of up to $10,000 per parish to assist with these implementation costs to try innovative methods of accompanying young people in faith.
Any Catholic parish in the United States is eligible to apply. Since the project relies heavily on learning in diocesan cohorts which happen in person, the likelihood of being selected increases if eight or more parishes from one diocese apply for the project. The application must be filled out by someone in the parish with the pastor’s permission. Diocesan staff are urged to encourage parish leaders within their diocese to apply, but the diocesan director cannot fill out the application.
Since the project aims to develop resources that can be used in Catholic parishes across the United States, diversity is the main goal when selecting parishes. The forty parishes will be selected across at least five dioceses. While not every parish has to contain every type of diversity, the slate of parishes should represent the diversity of the Church, including ethnic and cultural diversity, socioeconomic diversity, parish size, and geographic location.
The ideal parishes would possess a humble attitude towards their ministry with an openness to trying something new. In terms of ministry with young people, the parish does not have to have a vibrant current youth ministry in order to apply for the project; however, there should be high school aged youth present in the community (even if they are not present in the parish).
One major consideration is the expectation of stability in leadership for the next three years. Leadership transition, especially pastor transition, can negatively impact the parish’s ability to follow through on the project. If a leadership transition of any kind is expected due to retirement, resignation, or reassignment between 2024-2027, it is strongly recommended that the parish either reconsider applying or has a definite plan in place to navigate the transition.
Fortunately, the Accompaniment Project resources have already been through a pilot phase of the project. In 2019, nine parishes across three dioceses piloted the Accompaniment Project resources with great success. Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pilots ended when in-person gatherings were no longer possible. Adaptations are being made to the resources based on the evaluations from the pilot parishes.
Applications will be accepted online beginning on September 5, 2023, through the link on the website. The online application form is available in both English and Spanish. You can download a pdf of the application questions prior to filling out the online form; however, no paper applications will be accepted. You must complete the form online. Please note that to fill out the application, the applicant will need to acknowledge that he/she has read all the FAQs, he/she has the pastor’s permission to apply, and the parish agrees to commit to the project for 3 years.
The online application window will open on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 and close on Friday, September 29, 2023. Selected parishes will be announced on November 27, 2023.
The 3-year project will launch in the forty selected parishes in March 2024. The process will begin with in-person training for the parish leaders. The project will conclude in Spring 2027.
Yes, but… All of the current resources for the Accompaniment Project are available to NFCYM members free of charge (for more information about NFCYM membership, click here >). If your parish is not part of the project, you would not receive the training, access to the coach for assistance with strategic planning, or the shared learning with the cohort of parishes. You also would not be eligible for the matching grants. At the end of the project, the goal is to be able to update the resources based on the learnings from the Accompaniment Project and to provide those resources to any interested parishes.
Questions or Comments?
If you have any questions or comments, please email Brigitte, Senior Project Manager, or Lesly, Partner Specialist, at [email protected].