To initiate and sustain programs, youth ministry needs to be organized and coordinated at all levels: in the national and regional levels, in the diocesan and parish levels, and in the various levels and units of youth organizations and movements. This is in view of youth ministry embracing all youth, regardless of background and situation.
The convergence of all youth ministry efforts in the Philippines comes under the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY), an office under the Department for Lay Formation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The ECY is initially a committee under the Episcopal Commission on Lay Apostolate (ECLA) during the period 1976-1985. This period marked the rise of national youth organizations and movements and the creation of youth ministry structures within the dioceses. Diocesan youth directors, coordinators and leaders head these structures. During the NCYM in January 1986 in Tagaytay City, the delegates, composed of the youth directors, coordinators and leaders, proposed for the creation of a separate commission specifically for the youth.
Basis for its creation are the following:
- that majority of the population belongs to the youth:
- that the ECLA, dominated by lay adults with their won unique needs and concerns, cannot adequately meet the particular demands of ministering to the young;
- that the youth and youth ministry exhibit unique needs and aspirations—calling for a corresponding response that is concrete, adequate and complete.
- That the youth deserve fuller and more direct representation and participation in the Philippine Church.
The bishops acknowledge the need for a commission that addresses all youth ministry concerns distinctively. During the CBCP Plenary Assembly in June 1986, they unanimously approved the creation of the ECY.
The ECY is the office of the CBCP that ministers to all the concerns and needs of the Filipino Catholic youth.
As a separate commission under the CBCP, it is tasked to:
- undertake studies and periodic research on the situation (needs, aspirations, problems, etc.) of the Filipino youth;
- draw up policies and propose formation and pastoral programs that are relevant to the needs of the youth and the youth ministers of the regions, ecclesiastical territories, and youth organizations;
- facilitate an exchange of formation materials among the dioceses and youth organizations;
- provide youth ministers opportunities to grow in the faith, to inspire and challenge them, and to make them capable and efficient leaders in the Church;
- establish and maintain the National Secretariat for Youth Apostolate, headed by a National Director;
- establish relationship and collaboration with its youth counterpart in other countries, such as the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conferences (FABC) and the Pontifical Council for Laity, among others, through an exchange of information, documentation, programs, and invitation to international youth conventions or forums.
As a CBCP commission, the ECY has the responsibility and authority for reviewing and making recommendation and objectives, plans, programs and policies for the youth sector, for approval by the CBCP Plenary Assembly or by the CBCP Permanent Council. It is also open to duties which the CBCP President may assign, aside from those duties already existent.
The ECY also prepares and submits to the CBCP Permanent Council a report of its activities together with its recommendations. The council may require the ECY to submit an earlier report of a particular matter entrusted to it, when the situation so demands.
Its Relationship to Other Structures
With the creation of the ECY, other structures of youth ministry were also officially established and recognized. From the regional to the parish levels, these structures enjoy sufficient flexibility of organization in order to respond to the realities and needs of their own youth and youth ministry. It is left to them to identify their effective style of operation.