In most areas of the diocese, parish programs for young people focus on preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation, which typically involves eighth- and ninth-grade students. Most parishes require a two-year program. Because of that, upper middle school and first-year high school students often are enrolled in religious education programs focused on preparation for the sacrament. Many parishes offer junior high and senior high youth programs in lieu of regular catechetical classes. Youth ministry offers spiritual, social, service, leadership training, and other opportunities. Faith formation in youth ministry includes the study of Scripture, examination of Catholic moral and social teaching, and special programs in the theology of the body. Some parishes offer religious education for adolescents biweekly or monthly in longer sessions with a more formal curriculum. The type, content, and duration of parish programs is determined by pastoral assessment of needs and the numbers of young people likely to enroll and attend.
In July 2008, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released “Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age.” Our High School curriculum standards are based on this USCCB framework. These standards are followed in all of our diocesan High Schools. It should also be noted that a vibrant campus ministry program in the High School setting is a vital asset to the faith development of youth.