The Accompaniment Symposium

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Faithfully Ministering to and with
Youth and Families in the Year Ahead

Our first virtual event focused on ways to evangelize through accompaniment in our current reality was a success! The Accompaniment Symposium took a unique approach for workshops, as speakers partnered with field practitioners to provide practical ways to apply the information to day-to-day ministry. 

Our Emcees

NFCYM exists to help ministry leaders build up young people to lead others to Christ. So who better to help lead The Accompaniment Symposium, but young adults who have been molded by their youth ministers?


Madelyn is an incoming freshman at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she will major in architecture. She loves to travel the world, meet new people, and spend time with her family of six.


Bryan is a speaker, digital marketer, and entrepreneur. At just 20 years old he has spoken at Los Angeles Youth Day and Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. Bryan was also a game host at the 2019 NCYC.

The Agenda

Opening Session

Emcees: Madelyn Cruz and Bryan Villegas

We begin as we do all things: with prayer, asking God’s intercession to open our minds and hearts to receive what He wills from the event. Madelyn and Bryan will also review the symposium format and session participation how-tos.

Presenter: Dr. Josh Packard

How do we walk with young people to combat the record levels of isolation and loneliness that were present even before COVID-19? Dr. Josh Packard reveals what a year’s worth of research shows about how to build lasting relationships with young people that are influential and impactful. Drawing on more than 10,000 surveys and 150 interviews with 13 to 25 year-olds, Josh reveals why “relational authority” is the only kind of authority that matters in the lives of young people and how our current approach needs to change to have a true impact.

Dr. Josh Packard is the executive director of Springtide Research Institute, a new research institute that explores the intersection of religious and human experience in the lives of young people (ages 13 to 25). Josh is an accomplished researcher, speaker, and academic who studies the sociology of religion and new forms of religious expression. He is the co-author of Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why people are DONE with church but not their faith. Josh lives in Greeley, Colorado, and serves as a sociology professor at the University of Northern Colorado.

Panelists: Christina Davis, Dr. Patrick Donovan, Sr. Adelina Garcia
Moderators: Madelyn Cruz and Bryan Villegas

The panel will discuss Dr. Packard’s presentation and the hopes and challenges that the year ahead could bring.

Workshop Series A

Select one of the presentations below, each of which includes time for group discussion.

Presenters: Dr. Josh Packard and D’Maris Murillo
Moderator: Patrick Donovan, Diocese of Bridgeport

Relational Authority consists of five actions that are needed to establish meaningful, trusting relationships with young people. Dr. Packard reveals these research-driven actions and shares practical data-driven solutions for helping to create relationships and programs that lead with heart and expertise.

Presenters: Brian Henritze and Tracey Lamont, Ph.D.
Moderator: Sr. Adelina Garcia, Diocese of San Angelo

Ensuring that young people propel their faith and ministry as protagonists requires a particular parish culture. What foundational mindsets and practices need to be in place at the parish level in order for young people to take ownership of their faith and serve as driving agents of ministry? We will tackle these questions and provide recommendations for creating a parish culture that sees young people as co-responsible partners for the mission of the Church.

Presenters: Christopher Wesley and Jamie Kohler
Moderator: Christina Davis, Diocese of Reno

Christopher Wesley and Jamie Kohler will share practical steps for creating a remote and authentic ministry to engage teenagers and equip the domestic church in the formation of missionary disciples. You will leave with tangible examples of how to turn your ministry into a remote strategy.

Workshop Series B

Select one of the presentations below, each of which includes time for group discussion.

Presenters: Tom East, Marthamaria Morales, and Solanyi Rodriguez 
Moderator: Dr. Patrick Donovan, Diocese of Bridgeport

Young people in our parishes need someone to accompany them; they need faith companions. All those who walk with youth deserve support and tools for accompanying young people. Based on the Accompaniment Project from NFCYM and the Center for Ministry Development, this workshop presents a vision for empowering faith companions through formation and support with recommendations for implementing a system of accompaniment during this time of restricted gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Panelists: Benito Medrano, Dr. Young Hoang, Ms. Stacy Allen, Jody Roy
Moderator: Sr. Adelina Garcia, Diocese of San Angelo

Accompaniment is a universal call for the whole Church—but what does it look like in different cultural contexts? Our panel will highlight the gifts and challenges of ministering in their specific communities. They will share the best practices they have learned from ministering in an intercultural context that can help you know how to better serve the diverse Church and youth in your communities.  

Presenters: Dr. timone davis* and Starr Young
Moderator: Christina Davis, Diocese of Reno

Accompaniment is the latest buzz word floating just above the surface of youth and young adult ministry, but what does it look like in practice? Dr. timone davis and Starr Young will share their accompaniment relationship. Starr will share what it’s like to be accompanied, what she has found helpful, and give voice to how timone has been her caller ID when it comes to seeing what God is calling her to do. timone will outline why mentoring is important and layout ways to proceed.

Closing Session

Panelists: TBA
Moderators: Madelyn Cruz and Bryan Villegas

Madelyn and Bryan will recap the workshop sessions and discuss the best ideas and highlights from each session.

Emcees: Madelyn Cruz and Bryan Villegas

Our emcees will close out our first virtual symposium with a few final thoughts and prayer.


We have gathered experts including professors, directors in leading Catholic organizations, a lawyer, and a psychologist, and paired them with youth ministry practitioners. In addition, leaders from dioceses across the United States are helping to moderate the workshops.



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