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.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Confirmation Gift

On the advice of the older kids-11th and 12th graders-I'm getting the Confirmation students a copy of the Catechism (the compact softcover) for a gift. I have about $7 left per kid. Does anyone have any good suggestions on what else I could get them? Maybe something with JPII's face or saying, or something from our new Pope?Or some other meaningful gift?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Confirmation Woes

So it's the end of the year and I have several students who have 3 or more service opp's to finish. (They needed to do 4, 2 at each of the places I provided). We have two, one of each left. What to do?

I think a few of the students' parents are trying to make a political statement and that burns my bunions. Interestingly, none of said parents have ever called me or approached me on the subject, so to me, they are gutless.

What's really irritating is that they will probably all be confirmed anyway, which says to the next class-hey, you don't really need to do what the program is asking of you.

There are days when I'd love to go back to inner city work where the issues facing families were of real consequence, not "My child doesn't have to do it if I don't want them to" or "My child shouldn't have to do that if they don't want to". And the kicker "I have money-I'm a friend of Fr's".

My two goals in adding service to the Confirmation program the way that I did was:

Community: They work together to support one another doing service. For some it's easy and they can help the others. For some it's really hard and they can be supported and encouraged by those around them .

Serving God's People: Yeah, shelving books at the library or working at the kennel is dear, but I want them in contact with people. I want them to see Christ in others and be Christ as well. I want them to know that IT'S NOT ABOUT THEM. That sometimes our brothers and sisters around us are in need as we need to just step up to the plate and DO SOMETHING. And that often means asking for the grace of God to do just that.

But, no. "My kid as cheerleading during every event" "I don't like it so on principle I'm not letting my kid go". Unbelievable.

Fundraising Update

We did well! The kids worked the tables, the kitchen crew did all right and we made a good chunck of money. The only blip was my over-hyper volunteer, but in the end it went fantastic. My RHG was the real queen, as she was the one who did most of the planning and executing. It's great to have a volunteer like her who I can leave in charge and things will be brilliant.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Fundraising Hair Raising!

The next two weekends Youth Ministry has it's two biggest fundraisers. This weekend it's the Mexican Dinner. We are also raffling off some pretty sweet prizes.

But on my way in I got a voicemail from one of my over hyper volunteers-where was the cook, where was the food, she didn't have time for this, give her a call back.

10 minutes later I arrive at work and she's gone. Left the building. So I call my Right Hand Gal. RHG says "I can't find the cook" (much of the food would be prepared today for tomorrow).

Not 5 minutes later the custodian comes up to me: "Someone has reserved all the tables you wanted to use for a sign up that they are doing". And the person in charge is not in the office today.

And I have 1/3 of the kids who have not turned in their raffle ticket sales and short of going to their homes I'm 'bout ready to start charging them interest.

This will all turn out all right, but it's quite the circus, despite all of our plans.

Oh, PS. Our cook has different, um, cultural expectations, I think. Time is not all that important, but finding the right bean is. *sigh* She finally showed up this afternoon and I'm choppin tomatoes like a mad woman.

Thursday, April 21, 2005



Ok, so it's in October but


I could die happy today.

UPDATE: I take that back. I could die happy after The Concert.

Catholics and Protestants Eat Lunch-Together!!

Everyso often a crew of us youth ministers types from the area get together and eat lunch together. I'm the only Catholic in the group which makes for some challenges for me.

I'm also relatively new to the area and it seems like many of them know each other and other Protestant ministers and events in the area. So far I've walked into every lunch feeling overwhelmed and mad at myself.

See, I'm generally a really fun person to be with. But I've discovered that I'm at my best when I "own" the room, when I am in charge, when I know everyone,'s when I'm so totally in the minority that I get "verklempt"

My biggest awareness is that I'm the Catholic. They don't make me feel that way, but it is ever present on my mind. I am keenly aware of what I say, what I talk about, how I present myself. I worry too about what to talk about. What do they consider "Christian" what topics do I avoid?

This also comes out of a two sided coin. I admit I might be a bit "anti-Protestant" but that comes from the flip side-that I want EVERYONE to have all the good stuff that the Catholic Church has to offer. It's not a coat that we put on , but an acceptance of reality and a choosing to live this reality.

What would you do in a regular group of Protestants? They are really good people and we try to plan some social events together. But what is your take on the Catholic-Protestant relationship? How does one be with our separated brothers and sisters in Christ?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


I'm reading over some bio's about Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and I can't help but keep comparing him to John Paul II. I know it's not fair, but it's all so new.

Then I got thinking: So many millions of us have been formed by JPII. His thinking, his philosophy, his theology have permeated what we understand and know. I wonder if what I have chosen to study was not a direct result of the teachings of him, I just didn't know it. For instance, I am fascinated by moral theology and even more so was completely overwhelmed with wonder at the Theology of the Body, as I was with Humanae Vitae and Mulierius Dignitatum (Dignity and Vocation of Women). My philosophical ponderings drank in everything I could lay my hands on that the Church taught on such issues, and many times I found myself reading JPII's work-or work inspired by him, or joined in with his teachings. The things he loved, I found I was loving. The things he challenged us on, I found myself picking up on (such as working for justice in our Western Free Market society), he was all about the dignity of the human person and so I studied: What does that mean? Who is the human person?

Pope Benedict XVI is not Karol Wojtyla. He will have his own passions, his own message gleaned from Truth, his own emphasis and direction. Will I love them as much? Will I formulate my ministry inspired by him as I was so much with his predecessor? Is it ok that I'm still a JPII Girl?

It's not that I fear the future, far from it. I believe Pope Benedict XVI will lead excellently.

It's just different. And fascinating.

Habemus Papam

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: Pope Benedict XVI.

But then, I'm sure you already knew...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Weekend Update

What a weekend! Friday we had an overnight LAN party where they hook all their computers together and play games. From there, I went home, showered and went to the service opportunity with some of the Confirmation students. I tried to work on the Workcamp meeting but couldn't see straight, so I went home. I slept a big, came back in, sold raffle tickets for our fundraiser. This morning I went out to the school to pick up things left from the LAN party, finished working on the Workcamp meeting, made it to 11am Mass, where I realized I forgot to put on deoderant. Didn't hug anyone at the kiss of peace. Left early to go home to get deoderant, realized I forgot food for the Workcampers, grabbed oranges and came to Workcamp meeting. Had meeting with wonderful kids, had lots of info to give them.

PS If you are planning on doing a LAN party Best Buy might still have this sale going on, not sure. It is a 4 port wireless router. A router is the box through which all the computers talk to each other with-with cables, or wireless, if your computer has a wireless card. The XBoxes will need cables. But we had someone bring a 24 port router, so we did pretty good. We also had a parent who worked in IT (information technology) and got us 100 feet cables for 10 bucks!! Not bad.

My social coordinator and I were totally out of our element. Thankfully, someone from the parish saw our ad to the kids and approached us to let us know that he'd be willing to help us set things up. Thank goodness!!

It was a funny site-these boys had their own little world going on and seemed like they all had a great time.

The Service went great: Some of my most challenging boys met up with an elderly man who only spoke Spanish, and they said that they had fun trying to speak to him. All in all I was really proud of them.

Workcamp meeting went well too. Tired. Wish this county sold beer on Sundays, cause Lord knows I could use one. I'm going to go sit in the sun and read my Sunday paper.

God is Good. Pray for vocations!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Camera Phones!

So I had to get a new phone and I didn't want all the "fancy stuff". Just a regular ol' cell phone...well, Mr Charming-Salesman was in the store that day and I ended up with a hi-tech phone with a camera.

HOWEVER, I am putting it to good use: I just went into the 9th grade classroom to watch their production of "The Day After The Resurrection" newscast and took pictures! I will email them to myself and that way they'll be on my computer!

For what...I'm not sure yet...

Is "Youth Group" Dead?

For a long while now, I've rejected the idea of "youth group" because it just didn't seem to meet all of the needs that young people had. Instead, I used the Renewing The Vision's 8 Components as the back bone of youth ministry. So, I have socials. I have service opportunities. I have grand summer events. I have Religious Education (yes, through 12th grade!) I incorporate Community Life, I advocate, I invite them to prayer events, do pastoral care...

But what seems to be missing is space for them to just come and FLOP. To sit around with their peers and adults who love them (besides mom and dad...) and reinforce all the good things that we're trying to give them in an arena that they think they are creating, and in some ways they are: Youth Group.

Does the concept of "Youth Group" work anymore? Is it needed? Is it what they are looking for? Do we ask them what they are looking for, knowing that in 2 weeks they will change their minds? Do we simply supply them with what we have and expect them to show up?

Time Marches On

We had our parish Memorial Mass for the Holy Father last night, as Spring Break is finally over. I noticed with dismay that less than I hoped came. I also noticed that the American Flag was flying high again, not half staff. The news, too, have found other things to talk about.

I don't want to move on, don't want to have him really be gone from this world. But the more I kept pondering this the more I realized that the best way to keep his influence and teachings going is to behave in a manner that honors his legacy.

Unfortunately, to my heart this implies self-sacrifice. Seriously. Who wants to be self sacrificing? But he was to such a degree that at his funeral people in the crowds spoke of "Papa" and began chanting "the Great!" and "Saint, Soon!!". If my greatest goal is to skip over purgatory and enter heaven sooner-and hopefully drag a whole lot of people with me-the reality is that I must be more self-giving, self sacrificing.

On a practical matter, this means reaching out more to the kids. It means doing the work sooner rather than later. It means often times LIVING as an example, rather than preaching or lecturing. It means reaching out to that kid who seems to me to dislike me. Who cares?! It means being generous in nature with the staff around me, whether I always agree with them or not. It means spendning less time checking out sites that I want to and more time working on things in my office (such a favorite past-time). It means watching TV less and praying more. It means organizing my life so that I have a balanced time for prayer and personal needs so that I don't resent a kid when he or she calls at the last minute looking for my presence at a game or a concert or some other event they'd like to see me at.

It means, simply living the very first words of his pontificate: Be Not Afraid.
Not of kids, not of being rejected, not of getting work done, not of praying, not of anything. Be Not Afraid. Follow God. Great things will happen.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Book Of The Gospels

Patrick Coffin offers this observation over at Dom's Blog: I love the idea that this might not have been random, but maybe, as he says in the end, that God is giving us a wink.

Did anyone else notice the red Book of the Gospels that was laid upon the casket? For a few minutes it simply lay there, an open book upon the Man With the Open Heart. Then a stiff breeze came up and the white pages started flapping back and forth, like a dove in flight. Then in the middle of the Mass, the book suddenly closed itself. Boom. I couldn’t help but notice the perfect symmetry: Its spine lined up flush with the upright beam of the painted cross, the one with the “M” at the lower right. You’d have to sit there and adjust it a few times to get it that aligned, and yet the wind did it in one take. The cynic in me says I’m reading in too much, but the sight of a “closed book” upon his casket in the midst of his final good-bye was moving. Gave me Godbumps, and reminded me of the oddly vivid rainbow that suddenly graced the sky over Mile High stadium the instant the Holy Father strode on to the stage for WYD Denver in 1993. We do well to appreciate when nature’s God gives His people a wink.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

John Paul II: Witness and Example in Ministry To Youth

I find myself still not believing that Pope John Paul II is no longer with us. However, today I was doing our regular service opportunity at a Rescue Mission, serving with the Confirmation kids and even more so I thought about the example that the Holy Father gave to me and how I can do better at implementing this.

Does anyone else have any reflections on this? Has Pope John Paul II been an important figure in your ministry to youth? If he hadn't been, is he now? How? What will you take from his witness?? How about in your own life?

Friday, April 08, 2005

GoodBye, Papa.

When the alarm went off my immediate thought was "Did I miss it?". Then I looked at the clock. Nope. Not a chance. I shuffled out to my living room and hit the "on" button. In the dark, a light flickered on.

Having just basic cable, I chose NBC as my news outlet of choice only because I figured George Weigal would be there alongside Katie to discuss what everything meant. He was, lucky for Katie and Brian Williams. Another priest was there and he was pretty good as well. At the start they said that they would keep their comments to a minimum so that we could follow the Mass and hear Archbishop Foleyl translate. It was my first TV Mass-and I didn't need a translator. I love the fact that billions of people around the world were watching this and probably didn't need a translator as well.

Cardinal Ratzinger began with "Follow Me" and how Karol Wojtyla answered that call. In a life filled with loss which would bury most people with grief, he answered God's call in his life, becoming a priest and servant of God. His next-to-last book "Rise, let us be in our way" challenges me to quit looking at the things in my life that bring me down and I sputter and moan about. How human, some would say, how self serving, is the reality.

One of the things that ironically challenges me these days is reaching out to the kids. It was easier in the inner city in some regard because they were so desperately needy. In suburbia kids seem so busy, so disinteresed, so blinded by all that life and their families throw at them. Not all of it bad, but it means I need to be more deliberate in my reaching out to them, more engaging because they don't live on the streets-they live in warm, comfortable homes. Yet they need the love of Christ as well. They need to be challenged in their lethargy, in the midst of the pounding noise of adolescence and all the ways fighting to form them. They still need Christ.

"Finally, "abide in my love:" the Pope who tried to meet everyone, who had an ability to forgive and to open his heart to all, tells us once again today, with these words of the Lord, that "by abiding in the love of Christ we learn, at the school of Christ, the art of true love." Cardinal Ratzinger states this and he is right. By being loved by Christ, only by abiding in the heart of Christ can we learn how to love others. My fear cuts me off from experiencing the Love of Christ, it's no wonder loving the youth is a challenge for me lately. My answer, my challenge comes from the second reading from the Philippians, one the Pope lived so well: "Stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved!"

Cardinal Ratzinger quoted from the Pope's latest book
"In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love ... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good" (Page 189-190). Impelled by this vision, the Pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful."

What a vision! What an example. What words that burn my conscience and heart and makes me wonder why I grumble so much about my life!! If I'm truly wanting others to know the heart of Christ, it will mean being burned by the love of God to "draw forth even from sin a great flowering of good". I ask to be holy, then I wonder why it's so painful!

There is much that will be said of this man in the future. There is a great deal that he spoke about and wrote about that we are just barely beginning to read much less understand. His impact will be felt for generations to come, as shown by the chanting of the crowd and I joined in "Magnus ! Magnus!" The Great! The Great!! And then I fell to my knees crying, like a child who has lost her beloved father.

As they picked up the casket of the body of my hero, my challenger, my witness to a life lived holy, loving, hopeful, sacrificial I was aware that:

In the darkness, a light flickered on. And it will shine for a very long time.

Karol Josef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, Papa . You have demanded my dignity as a human, as young person and as a woman. You have challenged me to think of the poor and needy. You have written great wisdom that I can't wait to devour and understand. Most importantly, you followed God's call "Follow Me". I long to follow as passinately as you did. Pray for me, now that you are most certainly in heaven (you've certainly had enough prayers said for you, you sure do know when to die to get the max in prayers, don't you!) that I would live as bravely and fully as you did. To never be afraid. In my tears, my selfish tears, I grieve losing your precious existance here on earth, but know that your life and your witness has remained. Pray for us!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Cardinal George of Chicago on GMA

I saw a brief clip and I wish I could find it again, but Cardinal George was speaking with one of the folks from Good Morning America and I didn't hear the question, but his repsonse was something like this. I just loved it.

"The Pope's positions were the Church's positions. The Church's positions are Christ's positions. If people disagree with the Pope, they disagree with Christ"... (not sure if he said that last statement...) :"And we are called to live up to these standards. While some find it hard, the Church is patient. Ever calling us on to live these standards".

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Requiescat In Pace, Papa

Vatican TV offers us the ability to pay our last respects though we can't be in Rome. I'm guessing the Holy Father made sure things like this would happen.

Also, go to the JPII Cultural Center for some absolutely beautiful pictures.


I know I could have deleted the post below about the MTForum, but I like poking fun at myself. I really should have done my homework and then posted something.

It looks fab, absolutely fabulous. I'll post their site under "Catechetical Resources".


Midwest Theological Forum

Has anyone heard of this publishing company? Can you give me any insights?

I am quite fortunate to have someone who oversees Catechesis for Middle and High School and she is not only brilliant, but committed to orthodoxy.

(so when you hear me complaining about things, tell me to shut my yapper, I have many good things here!)

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Pope And Youth

Tim Drake makes a great observation. And when I emailed all of the kids here I let them know how much the Pope loved them and believed in them, though he'd not met them.

It cracks me up how the media can't seem to believe that there are so many young people in St Peter's Square who admit to loving this "controversial" man. Does it seem to anyone else that they keep looking for a youth who doesn't love the Pope?

Does anyone have any great or memorable stories about the Holy Father? World Youth Day? Meeting him (oh, I'm so jealous!)?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Be Not Afraid Posted by Hello

Our Beloved Papa Had Left This World For The Next

(thanks Dom for the tip)

Divine Mercy

I don't believe that it is coincidence that the Holy Father will probably die on Divine Mercy Sunday. In fact, I don't even really plan on being glued to the news until after 5pm-which would be 12am Rome Time: Divine Mercy Sunday, officially.

I've heard from several reliable sources about the timing of this-folks who have been wakened with a clear dream, a strong unshakable sense, a my good friend put it: It's probably the Holy Spirit getting us ready for the eventual departure of our dear Holy Father.

I was wondering-why not last weekend? Why not carry his cross and die on Good Friday, or go to Heaven on Easter, the day of Resurrection? Then I thought: Silly. He would never presume to overshadow THE Death, THE Resurrection. But Divine Mercy Sunday? The Polish nun's (Saint Faustine) call to prayer and this Pope bringing this to our attention...and the fact that it IS Divine Mercy that we most need at the hour of our death. hmm...

Well, I continue to pray.

PS Think of all the weekend Masses being celebrated as he is dying-we'll all be praying for him around the world-what a way to go out!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Selfish Tears

I know Papa is ready to leave this world for the Next, but when he dies, I will mourn that I never got to meet him and that he is no longer in the world in which I still reside.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory Be...