An important challenge is found in a personal and committed relationship with God, which at the same time commits us to serving others.
Evangelii Gaudium 91
The Faith in Action Award rewards the active service of young people to others and the Church both in their local and wider community. This service is recorded using a credit system which escalates with the progression of the award. For the award to have meaning, it is vital that participants feel challenged and supported in their service so that they encounter personal and spiritual growth. What is important, therefore, is not that a specific list of activities is completed and ticked off, but rather that the experiences help move the participants forward on their faith journey. The most valuable resource of this award scheme is the leader and the relationship they foster with the participants. It is this dynamic, played out in a faith context, which will allow for informed guidance and decision making at each point in the process.
Service can be through social action, active participation and contribution in liturgical celebrations, fundraising etc. Some more specific examples of service include reading at Mass, volunteering in Lourdes, organising a fundraising event.
Home and Away
The Faith in Action Award encourages young people to take their faith into the wider community through the 'home and away from the base' credit system. If a young person's Faith in Action Award group is based in a parish, that is where their 'home' credits are gained. Their 'away' credits can be gained in school or through an activity or organisation not based in the parish. If the young person does not attend a Catholic school, they can still gain credits at school for volunteering activities with a Christian ethos of serving others. For example, a non-Catholic school may organise shoebox/hamper appeals at Christmas, visit the elderly in nursing homes, organise fundraising activities for disaster appeals etc.
In a school-based group, the 'home' credits are gained through school-led activities. If a participant is Catholic they should be encouraged to gain at least some of their away credits in their local parish, even if the connection up to this point has been limited. The Award Leader should support this engagement by informing local clergy about the Faith in Action Award and that they may have young people looking for volunteering opportunities.
What Leaders may expect at each level
One of the most valuable resources of the Faith in Action Award is the leader and the relationship he/she fosters with the participants. It is this dynamic, played out in a faith context, which will allow for informed guidance and decision making at each point in the process.
For the Award to have meaning, it is vital that the participants feel challenged and supported so that they encounter personal and spiritual growth. What is important, therefore, is not that a specific list of activities are completed and ticked off, but rather that the experiences help move the participant forwards on their journey of faith.
It is important that the leaders see themselves as more than administrators of the process. The leadership that they give should allow participants to synthesise experience, learning and action in a real and concrete way.
Leaders are therefore encouraged to be creative and to remain responsive to the needs, experiences and context of those with whom they journey. It is hoped that each level of the Faith in Action Award could be gained by a young person with learning disabilities - academic achievement should not be a barrier to gaining each level, but every young person should feel that their award has been suitably personally challenging.
The keywords at each level - discovery, service, leadership and innovation - should help the leader and your people understand what is expected for each level.