Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Well, for starters, thank you all for the prayers. We had a pretty good Confirmation Retreat.

We had 49 of the 58 Confirmation students on retreat-and 2 ended up going home sick. We had team of 14 teens and 8 adults. The teens gave the talks, led the games and led the small groups. I go back and forth as to the wisdom of having teens lead the small groups. On one hand it is empowering, especially if they get training before hand. On the other hand, they lack experience and life lived to offer the kids in their small groups.

The theme of the retreat was Journey: getting started on, journey within, with others, with God, and finally Confirming the journey. All went well until during the second talk when fireworks went off outside the chapel where we were meeting. For a good minute and a half they popped and sparkled. I looked at my more suspicious boys and couldn't tell if they were the culprits or not. Later one of the teen team told me that he heard that some of the kids at school knew we were going to be here and had planned on doing something. Sometimes staying in town is not always the best thing!

The highs were that we were at a camp, and right on Lake Michigan. It was also watching the teen leaders do their thing and work hard. I was also thrilled when it was peaceful and quiet by 2:15am and I could go to bed in peace, pretty sure that no one was going to get up in the middle of the night and wreak havoc. (Seriously. Last year I stayed up ALL NIGHT.) We also do a "Palanca" letter-we send a letter to all of the parents asking them to write a letter to their son or daughter about whatever they want to write. Palanca is a Spanish word meaning lever, or to support, to lift up. At a time when for many of them meaningful conversations with their parents is low it is touching to see them read their parents words of love and care for them. Good stuff.

The lows was that there were about 6 boys who kept the same attitude together: This is bull. We aren't going to participate, we are going to roll our eyes and we really don't care. Unfortunately, for at least one of the small groups, this may have intimidated the others to not share and even join in on the attitude.

I can't help but wonder if part of their resistance was due to my lack of prayer. I have been so task oriented these past few weeks, careful not to mess up in the administrative end of things that I just let the attention to prayer slip on by. I hadn't even let my family know that we needed prayers, something I always do before a big event. I hadn't prayed much for this retreat, we didn't even get a chance to pray over each other as a team before the retreat. It made me realize that while these boys have their own stubborn free will and issues, prayer really and truly is the key. I was fighting a spiritual battle for their hearts and minds-but with rusty swords and dull armor. I hope never to make this mistake again.

The team and I have found that we need to revamp much of the retreat. As it stands now, we have one talk, one small group and then go right into reconciliation and Mass. We just get them in the door and then say "come confess your deepest darkest secret"-no warm up, very little prep. We are definately changing that for next year.

All in all, it happened. I had a great team of kids, wonderful adults and ideas on how to make it better next time around. I loved the camp and while some of the teen Team liked the old place, pretty soon no one will know what it was like to be at the old spot and we can stay put and iron out the challenges of being at this Camp.


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