Jodi and I are blessed with five children, four of whom are high-schoolers or older. All of them are knowledgeable about Catholicism and practice their faith daily. Indeed, they humble us with their devotion to the sacraments, their service to the Church and their willingness to evangelize.
Sometimes people ask us what we did to “make them” this way. We’ve asked them the same question. The clearest answer we’ve received is that going to Mass was never a choice or a question—but more than making them go, we never complained about it ourselves. They knew that Mass, prayer and formation were priorities, not only for them, but for us, too.
It’s gratifying to hear, but we know there is something more. Our example got them through the doors of the church, but St. Michael and St. Albert Youth Ministry made them want to come back and helped them fall in love with Jesus. First they wanted to go to Friday Night Live with their friends, then they asked to go to Extreme Faith Camp, then they began asking to go to Confession, daily Mass and Adoration. They admired the older teens who entertained and mentored them, and decided they wanted to pay it forward. They joined Core Team and began to draw the next generation to Christ.
It’s hard to imagine how a monthly night of fun and games with short reflection at the end leads to a week-long summer camp with all the bells and whistles that leaves teens longing for the Eucharist. Many Catholics have never seen fruitful Youth Ministry. So a few years back I joked to my son Gabe, who was a senior on the Youth Ministry Core Team, that we need an Extreme Faith Camp for adults, so they could experience it firsthand.
He took me seriously. That spring, the Core Team teens put on their first Adult Witness Retreat—teens witnessing to adults who, in many cases, brought them into the Church and the Catholic faith.
I went to that first retreat, expecting to be a spectator watching the teens demonstrate what they do as Core Teamers. What I experienced instead was heart-rending, joyful, convicting and converting—and actual retreat that led me closer to Christ through the lived experience of young men and women less than half my age.
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s time again. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Core Team is unable to lead an in-person retreat, but on Friday, April 24, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM, all adults are invited to a Virtual Adult Witness Retreat. It a great opportunity to connect with other adults and with Christ, to experience God’s love powerfully through our teens, and to learn firsthand what makes St. Michael and St. Albert Youth Ministry so effective and so special.
In the interest of full disclosure, my daughter Emma, who’s a senior this year, is helping to lead the retreat, my sophomore son Trevor is helping, as well, and Gabe is back this year as an adult attendee. Please join us online for a great night. The retreat is free; register online here: http://www.stmacatholicyouth.org/adult-witness-retreat-2.
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Blogger’s Note: This post first appeared as part of the Wednesday Witness blog series on the St. Michael Catholic Church website.