Help youths develop their gifts - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Help youths develop their gifts

This Sunday afternoon, I’ll be joining some friends at the Callahan Theater at Nazareth College to enjoy a broadcast of the radio program “From The Top.” This is a program that travels the country offering gifted young musicians an opportunity to perform for a nationwide audience. “From The Top” is broadcast on Sunday from 5-6 p.m. on WXXI-FM, Rochester.

I don’t hear it every week, but I listen whenever I can. To me it is a special pleasure to hear these young people perform. I am not a musician myself, but I do love listening to music, and admire both the talents of these young people and the deep commitment they make to their art. No less an attraction to the program is the opportunity it provides for some insight into the lives and personalities of these gifted young people.

Christopher O’Riley, himself a gifted artist, hosts the show and often accompanies guests on the piano. I admire the gracious and humorous ways in which he engages his guests in conversations. Through his interchange with the guests, the listener has a sense of the personality behind the art. To me, that makes the listening experience all the more enriching.

I’m writing this not so much to promote the program — although I do encourage you to tune in! Rather, I am writing about it because it seems an excellent example of how we can help young people identify and develop their gifts, and provide opportunities for them to share those gifts with others. Who doesn’t win when that happens?

Our young people are gifted. But, normally the gifts we have — gifts of any and every kind — do not develop automatically. We have to practice the scales, spend time in the batting cage, read a great deal, write, do the declensions, etc. Usually, it’s fun to follow one’s gifts, but we rarely stick at it without developing a lively acquaintance with discipline and commitment.

That’s tough under any circumstances. But, it’s made a whole lot easier when parents and mentors and friends support the effort. That these young artists have received such support is often made quite evident in the exchange between Mr. O’Riley and them on “From The Top.”

The frosting on the cake is the opportunity provided by the wider community for these young people to enjoy an experience on the national stage. My guess is that such opportunities confirm their gifts and encourage them to develop them further.

It makes me happy that so many of our parish communities work very hard to draw our young people into full participation in parish life according to their gifts, interests and readiness. It is important that our children appreciate at a very early age that they are precious to us, that we honor and appreciate their gifts, that we are ready to do all that we can to help them develop and share those gifts.

I thank all of our pastoral leaders for the commitment they make to our young people. No less do I thank the youth ministers and volunteers of our diocese who give so much of themselves on behalf of the young church.

Peace to all.

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