n 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.” During 2008-2009, meetings with high school principals, religion department heads, and the faculties of the four Catholic high schools in the diocese delved into these guidelines. It was clear that the semester course offerings in existence at Bishop England High School on Daniel Island, Cardinal Newman High School in Columbia, St. Francis Xavier High School in Sumter, and St. Joseph School in Greenville are already in compliance with the courses on Jesus in Sacred Scripture, the Church, Sacraments, and the Catholic moral tradition presented in the USCCB framework. Teachers from the four schools have committed themselves to adapting and designing courses on Christ (Christology) and Jesus’ Mission and the Paschal Mystery to cover the materials in two additional courses. The USCCB curriculum also allows for a number of electives, many of which are already offered at our Catholic high schools.
A general finding for the Catholic high schools is that a vibrant campus ministry program is a vital asset to the faith development of youth.