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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Folks, I loathe being spammed. Therefore you may have to take one extra step when leaving a comment. Please do not be deterred, those of you who are legit!!

Hurricane Katrina

I hadn't blogged on this yet, because I just simply didn't know what to say. As I (an admitted news junkie) watched the news I just wanted to cry. I know what it is like to feel like you are in survival mode, but I still had a home, a car and food on the table, as well as clean water.

I get cranky when there isn't enough food prepared or someone didn't save me some of a great dinner, so I can't fathom the fear that overcomes people and what they will resort to just to find food and water for themselves and their families.

However, help is always needed. You will be hearing about this for quite some time. You will also hear from quack places looking to make a (sick) buck off of this tragedy. Please make sure that you are giving your time and money and donations to good and reputable organizations. In fact, Catholic Relief Serives gives 94% of it's donations directly to the programs. They will also direct you to Catholic Charities who work more with domestic needs whereas CRS is international.

The American Red Cross is also getting a great deal of airtime. If you haven't caught their commercial yet with Johnny Cash singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water " yet, get your kleenex ready. Man.

After 9/11 I was working in Boston and a group of youth ministers went down in early October to lend a hand. It was something I will never forget. The shock was still fresh and New York was still, well, friendly. I took a 12 hour shift as a short order cook in the block that held the morgue. We fed and made coffee (all free) to the morticians and rescue workers who were picking through the incoming rubble for any kind of human remains or valuables. My next assignment was down at Pier 19 where a warehous had been turned into a temporary relief building. I did the initial interviews for people who would be needing money to make it through the next weeks. My first interview was with a woman who was a cleaning lady for one of the towers. She worked during the night and had just gotten home from her shift when she got a call to turn on her TV. There in front of her was the insanity and chaos that we all witnessed.

I share this because while NYC was inundated with volunteers it was also clear that New Yorkers needed to see that the rest of us were there to support them and in a way, see to their needs when they were in dire need. There may be opportunities in the near future for a group of you to hook up with one of the local chapters of the Red Cross or Catholic Charities and offer your hands to help some of the victims of Mother Natures' Tragedy.

I forgot to add that we worked through the Salvation Army.

Preparing For A New Year

STOP! Stop what you are doing! Tell the secretary that you will be unavailable for at least 30 minutes. At the very least. Then take your bible, notebook and other prayer books and GO TO THE CHAPEL AND PRAY!

First, thank God for his mercies and blessings. Thank him for the opportunity to serve him and His Church. Thank him for all-yes ALL- the people that you work with. Some of them may drive you crazy, but hey, maybe they are helping you grow in humility and holiness!

Then beg God for mercy and grace for this next year. Nothing that we do is -or should be- independant of the work of Jesus Christ. How many times have we seen that things would have gone MUCH better had we turned to the Lord?? Hmmm???

Then Sit. Listen.

And Listen

And Listen.

When you get a sense of what he's trying to get through your thick noggin, write it down.
Pray also for the openness of the pastor to pray for direction of the parish, pray for anyone that you work with, pray for any of the relationships that you find most difficult to work with. Take time to examine your own life and failures (write those down and then head thee to a Confessional! Ok, I'll give you til this Saturday...).

Now, commit. Commit to turning over this ministry to the Lord each and every day. Pray for the grace to get out of the way of what God wants to do through you. Don't make him take Plan B because you got in the way! No, commit to daily handing over both your life and the work he has set out before you.

And finally ask the Saints and Angels to intercede on your behalf. Particularly, ask St Dom Bosco, St Agnes, St Maria Goretti, Papa (i.e. Pope John Paul II) and last but not least, the Blessed Mother. Hey, if all of them are up there, might as well get them prayin' for you as they are closer to God in all his glory!

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face to shine upon you. May he show you himself, and give you peace. Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Behold The Mighty Lake Michigan! (No, I'm Serious!)

For those of you who think the Great Lakes are nothing to sneeze at, take a look at these whitecaps. We've all been taught to respect the Lakes as they can drag you in, pull you under and take you out with the waves.

So of course we had to jump in and get tossed around by the waves.

These are of my 5 year old niece who enjoyed jumping over the foam and racing back towards shore, screaming like a banshee...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Welcome Youth Specialties Viewers!

I finally checked my mail and discovered that Youth Specialties has featured this blog! Thanks!
( )

Welcome to all those who found out about it from their emailings. Please leave me a comment in the comment box to let me know how you found your visit here: and come back!

Urban vs Suburban Youth: Same or Different?

I have worked in both wealthy parishes as well as in inner city parishes. I think that in many ways, kids are alike, but in many more ways, they are different.

While every kid want to be loved unconditionally and be "cool" they also have a lot of crazy feelings running around inside of them. They are unpredictable, moody, dreamers, and hip (since our society turns to them for all things acceptable).

But while these things are universal, I find the two groups to also be vastly different.

When working in the inner city, I found that kids problems were often more severe-that is, they were just trying to survive. Their problems were right in front of their nose and most of their friends had significant issues as well. Life really was pretty bleak and getting out of the "hood" was usually unlikely. Their vices were ways of dealing with what life had handed to them, even if those vices often meant rehab, jail or worse, death. In the inner city there is little privacy and no where to go but the corner or the streets. If you put rats in that close of proximity to each other they'd eventually eat each other up.

However, in suburbia I find an astonishlingly amount of entitlement. Where parents had a hard time keeping track of their kids in the inner city, I had parents who were overly involved with the tracking of their kids in suburbia.

For instance, I would tell all of the kids in the program for Confirmation that they, themselves were to call me if they could not make a meeting, class, service event or retreat. How many do you think I heard from? 4. All the rest were parents.

I also had parents insist that their kids' soccer practice/musical rehearsal/cheerleading camp/ came before anything that we as a Church were asking them to commit to. I've had programs that demanded that they make every meeting and parents went HAYWIRE! It's ok for Coach to make that demand but not the teachers of their faith? huh?

Don't get me wrong-there are many many wonderful kids and parents in both places. Many more than the complaining, irritating kind. However I almost always heard from that last group.

I have learned a great deal from both, but I will tell you that if it were up to me, the inner city kids would see the world, and the suburban kids would be the ones giving it to them.


I'm going to list some resources on the side that may not necessarily correlate with our Catholic Faith. That is to say, they are not clearly Catholic or even Christian, but they do offer some insight into the world that today's kids live in and ways of finding out what is on their mind. If you find something really objectionable please let me know, however these are for info and research.

And just so you know, I won't put anything on the sidebar that is objectionable in anyway to the Catholic Faith. That would just be silly!

There Has Always Been A Starbucks

Each year Beloit College puts out a list of what the mindset is of that years' college freshman. Recently, MSNBC had an article on it. The fuller list as well as years past lists are on the Beloit College Mindset List site.

Here are some examples:
Michael Jackson has always been bad, and greed had always been good...they have never know a "kinder, gentler nation", A George Bush has been President for half their lives, and Miss Piggy and Kermit have always dwelt in Disneyland (when did they move there?)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You, Man, YOU are AWESOME!

RKT. The man, the legand. R. Kerry Thompson. The antidote to R. Kelly.

This totally awesome man was given the Ambassador of Christ award from St Mary's Press. But the biography snippet hardly gets to who this man is.

First of all, they don't even mention that he spent almost 15 years in South Boston where he was teacher, then director of all high school and middle school Religious Education and Youth Ministry. He was the director of one of the most successful inner city youth ministry programs that combined 7 parishes to meet the needs of all the youth of "Southie".

It was a love-hate relationship, he often said. He loved the kids, he hated their drug problems, he loved the Irish flair of the neighborhood, but hated the intense politics inherent in such a place, he knew what was best for the souls of the youth and families but was so often cut off by parents who didn't care, pastors who battled each other and funding that eventually ran out. (Right around the time that the Scandal broke out...I'm not saying anything, but, y'know...hmmm).

Kids flocked to this man. Hard core kids. Kids who wouldn't darken the door of a church. Kids who lost friends as well as grandparents to death. Kids who often didn't see a world outside of "O and 3rd" or "K and 2nd"-well known street corners. But he loved them. "It's unconditional". He used to say. New kids would look around confused, the regulars filling them in "That means he loves us".

He would go the exra mile, enter chaotic homes to bring God's peace to a family, put an arm around a strung out kid, point in their face and say "Is this REALLY what you want to do with your life??". He's been known to go to hospitals and courts to advocate for the goodness he saw in each life. He was also known for swearing at the culture and garbage that brought these same kids down.

When he moved to Norwood, Southie suffered a tremendous loss. In a world where survival is not merely a TV show he gave hope. In the midst of suffering and grief he brough comfort. In a life berefit of love and attention, he gave Christ's Amazing Grace.

I'm honored to know Kerry Thompson. I'm a better minister because of his influence. In our darkest moments we stuck it out and every person who comes in contact with him is a better person.

God bless you man. YOU are Awesome!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Totally Cool News We Already Knew

We all know that most of us are suspicious when it comes to the MSM. However I was watching the "Today Show" this morning and Matt did an article on Spirituality in America. I have been trying all day to get the video clip to run but it keeps going to "sexless marriage".. hmm...maybe that's what they really wanted us to see instead...

But I found this on the site about the latest Newsweek. I went to the site for "Roman Catholics" where they made this statement:
But now, as the generation raised under the more orthodox Pope John Paul II comes of age, some young Catholics are searching for a more rigorous form of faith. ..This is one of the few colleges in America where a "Hail Mary" isn't just a last-minute football play.

And they weren't talking about Notre Dame...this morning NBC interviewed one of the students from FUS.

But all this talk-we already knew it.


Yeah, didn't know that my insurance already covers insurance on the car that I had to rent because of the accident. So, I got it for $15/day for 37 days. You do the math. And my car is back, but not quite right. Then my "check battery" light came on. I don't have a job, I don't know if I'll ever get a job, I don't feel qualified for anything, I don't like what is going on and I'd like to throw up.

Just thought I'd give you an update...


Sunday, August 21, 2005

World Youth Day

I know it might seem odd for aYouth Ministry blog to not talk much about World Youth Day-but what else is there to say?

If I were there I'd blog like Tim over at Young And Catholic. Amy has had loads as well. And it's all over teh Catholic World what is going check out those who are there and the official site.

I will say that World Youth Day is vital to the health and well-being of Catholic Youth. I don't quite agree with the Europeans who see WYD as being for 18-30 year olds, I think those in High School would do well to be there as well.

Why? Becuase there is something striking to an impressionable young person that this great man, this world leader, our Father in the Faith wants to come to us. That's what blew my mind when I went as a young person-this incredibly busy and much sought after man wanted to spend time with US! Us kids! That was SO totally cool!!

It's been a bit tough for me to watch WYD as I miss Papa JPII quite a bit. But the really cool thing is that I can talk to him anytime and his buddy, Benedict XVI is willing to keep this important date with the youth of the world.

May God bless all of the youth who traveled to Germany, that they bring back the fervor they experienced there, that they bring back to their parishes the love of the Eucharist, the intimacy of the liturgies, and the seeking of the Sacrament of Reconciliation that the Holy Father talked about at the closing Mass:

Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to him...Let others see this, let the world see it, since this is exactly the witness that the world expects from the disciples of Jesus Christ; in this way, and through your love above all, the world will be able to discover the star that we follow as believers. (full text here)


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Israeli Settlers

This being a blog for youth ministry and being that there are so many other political blogs out there, I almost NEVER do this.

But I want to know why no one is commenting on this situation.

I've been watching FoxNews most of the morning. Maybe it's because I'm quite interested in Israeli statehood and such that I'm more aware of the news going on. But this is really really big stuff, folks. The kind of stuff that splits nations.

Ariel Sharon has decreed that the Gaza Strip and the Western Bank will go to the Palestinians and that the Jewish settlers ("set-lers" as the reporter keeps saying) must move today. In the Gaza strip they have gotten nearly everyone out of their homes in Kfar Daroum, but there are quite a few holed up in a synagogue. The Israeli army has been there all day dragging the settlers out of hte synagogue and the settlers have put up quite a defense.

The settlers are upset because they feel that Sharon has betrayed them. After all he had encouraged them to settle there and he almost always was on their side. They are also angry that Jewish police are doing the forceful removing to their own. This really enrages them.

At teh synagogue they ahve poured oil on the steps so that the guards have a hard time getting in, they link arms to hold one another together, they have put up barbed wire on the top of the roof-they even have a portapotty on the roof, expecting to be there quite a while.

Meanwhile the troops have been in and out of the main room pulling settlers out forcibly, sprayed them down with water, and the image that strikes most of them to the heart are the big metel boxes that they have lowered onto the roof to use as cages to take out the settlers. For many of the settlers this is a reminder of the boxcars that Holocast victims were shuttled into during the Nazi occupation.

I'm blogging on this because it is such a difficult entanglement to understand and find a position on. For years I have been always on this side of Israeli statehood, that Israel fought hard during the 6-Day War to win this land. A great deal of blood and sacrifice has been made to form this State and any giving up is seen as giving up on the cause of Jewish Statehood.

On the flip side, as I heard one reporter say on the radio-If we believe that this land belongs to the Jews, one day it will. What is important now is peace-and if the Palestinians will agree to a ceasefire, agree to lay down their weapons, agree to stop bombing then give them the land.

I still believe in a complete Statehood for Israel, but I'm hoping that Ariel Sharon sees this as a move towards the greater good. And I hope that both sides will stop bombing each other and make an effort towards peace.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Lest You Think

That I don't value World Youth Day, since I'm not there I'm going to keep saying "GO SEE TIM".

I'm also under the weather today and won't blog much.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tim Drake: Update

God bless Tim Drake. He's covering World Youth Day for the National Catholic Register as well as Faith and Family. He's miles from home, missing the fam, lost his luggage and typing on a German language keyboard-so make sure you go over to his blog and thank him profusely! And pray for him...

So his info of late is the opening of World Youth Day and how it is not just the day that the Holy Father arrives and says Mass, but the entire time of gathering, meeting others from other countries and, as one young man he quotes said : "We are here to celebrate Christ. The Pope is like icing on the cake."

Pope John Paul II Movie on Hallmark

It wasn't scmalzy!

It was quite good, in fact.

I liked that many of his words and philosophies were sprinkled throughout the movie. They showed how he lived-that Christianity isn't just a mantel that you wear, it pervades every aspect of life. Therefore you needn't go around proclaiming that you are Christian, you go around living and speaking as God intended all of mankind to do.

I noticed that his involvement in Vatican II was totally missed and that the movie tended to be a Polish biopic. I'm not saying that this is bad-certainly there is gobs and gobs of information on his life and hundreds of aspects that they could have zeroed in on-but his involvement impacts us all even today. It seems they deliberately focused on his impact on Poland and how growing up in Nazi then Communist Poland did to form the man that he became. That they did very very well.

I think to make a movie about this man would mean several hours and be almost a mini-series. I mean, really, have you see the book on his life: Witness to Hope? I mean the book is 1056 pages long!! Except for the DVD made alongside Weigel's book, I'm not sure that there is a movie that could fully show his life.

On a personal note, at the end of the movie where they showed him putting on his papal robes I lost it. I miss Papa so much! I was then reminded that now I get to talk to him any time I like and he'll probably hear me-and I don't have to spend a huge amount of money on an airline ticket to Rome!!

Did anyone else see it? Any thoughts?

Monday, August 15, 2005

TV ALERT: Pope John Paul II Movie TONIGHT

It IS on the Hallmark channel, so I'm praying it's not schmalzy, but the movie I mentioned earlier is on this evening on the Hallmark channel. For more info go to:

Germany's Black Eye

This story had started a few days ago and I've been keeping tabs to see what has or has not happened. Already Germany is getting bad press because of some bad decisions in regard to World Youth Day 2005.

Bishop Kamphaus (Limburg Diocese, Germany) went to Cameroon in early 2005 and invited young people in Kumbo to Germany. Those who were to come were selected by their parishes and vouched for by their bishop. The Limburg Diocese raised the money to pay for the return flights and the Cameroonians' stay.The diocese organized a week of events for the visitors and found out the day before the visitors were due to arrive that it would have to cancel the program.

I realize that countries don't want people sticking around illegally afterwards, but it appears that most of those who have been turned down for visa's are from much poorer countries. Among others refused are 600 pilgrims from the Philippines. Really? Do you think they are all going to stay there? Even if half a dozen stay is this such a big deal when we are talking about the thousands-even up to millions-are coming for one of the biggest religous youth gatherings in the world? I don't get it. I'm glad that the Bishops are joining the fight.

World Youth Day 2005

Pilgrims are beginning to gather from all over the world for World Youth Day 2005. This is Pope Benedict XVI's first WYD which was created by his predecessor and good friend the late Pope John Paul II. About 400,000 are expected to attend everything and around 800,000 to attend the final Mass with the Pope.

I went one year and it was an unforgettable experience. Meeting people from all over the globe who believe like you and rejoice in a commont faith heritage. It was extraordinary that amidst the thousands there I actually ran into people that I knew-then again being from the Charismatic Renewal, NET Ministries and FUS I guess my world is relatively small...

I pray that this event is a success and that the youth in our Church are energized to bring the faith to all they meet-even when they come home!

Been Awhile

I'm having to make some radical life changes since leaving my job, so my apologies for the lack of posting. There is so much going on out there! So much to talk about!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

World Youth Day

Would any one like to be an on site reporter for us?

I'm not going this year ( I did one, and that was plenty...) but would love to have a running commentary from someone in the field. Anyone want to volunteer?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Word To The UnWise

Don't mess with things you don't know much about...
I can't seem to get my Weather Pixie back OR the St Blog Parish Hall sign to show up in the template. There has GOT to be an easier way to put these things on a page without having to know html. Seriously folks. ADD girl here has just about had it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Youth Ministers With Too Much Time On Their Hands

Or "Youth Ministers With Too Much Insanity To Deal With".
A good laugh from Youth Specialties.

Tic and Marko