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, November 30, 2005

Shooting Yourself In The Foot

Had an encounter with a mother that really made me crazed.

She was upset-no furious-that the time of last year's Confirmation program was changed and there was no official note or announcement about it.

Ok, for starters, I checked with the liturgical director and asked if I should do this. She said that since everything at the parish always starts at 7:30 everyone will arrive for this time. I had mistakenly put the starting time at 7:00, but quickly changed it when I found out that "everything here starts and has always started at 7:30pm" I let all the teachers know and asked them to remind the students of the time change. One catechists said "Oh, it was at 7? I'm glad you said something, I was already planning on coming at 7:30". It's that ingrained at this parish, you almost don't even have to tell folks what time to sign up. If it's at the Church, it's at 7:30.

But this woman-whose family come faithfully to Mass and is very involved in the Church was beside herself angry with me for changing it and not putting out a formal announcement. Let me also add that her son had been spotty at class because of baseball-a fact that mom and dad were not pleased with, nor was the son, but the coach was absolutely insistant on the kid's attendance at practice. Very unusual for this family. But at any rate, kid was not always in class.

So, if you aren't in class, or your son isn't able to make it to class, get the updates. I mean really-I had a very hard time understanding her controlled wrath. I apologized up one side and down the other and chose not to engage her in any of the above reasoning. But talk about priorities.
Really? This is what you chose to be upset over? Really? Why not be upset that the "Catholic" colleges that your other sons are attending refuse to sign the statement of fidelity? That one of the institutes of higher learning is promoting that hideous "Va-Monologues"?

And you're mad at me???

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Evangelization: Jesus Christ In The Flesh

I thought about pre-emptying this discussion on the 8 Components with thoughts on Advent prep but it struck me that this is the best time to talk about Evangelization.

Most recently I have been dismayed by the disturbing trend to keep Christ out of Christmas-to not even say the word Christmas. At some schools children are not allowed to sing Christmas carols or say Merry Christmas, or Boston, who I believe put up their "Holiday Tree" (btw do they realize that the word "Holidays" comes from "Holy Days" tee-hee!). As my secretary guffawed yesterday "Happy Sparkle Season" we all laughed-but realized the increasing reality of the world desperate to keep Christ out of the season he is the central and foundational figure of.

clearly the world does not know the love of Jesus Christ. How many of those around us do? How often do we enflesh Jesus Christ to not only the kids but their parents and our fellow parish co-workers?

"Evanglizing means bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation and seeking to convert individuals and society by the divine power of the Gospel itself" (Go and Make Disciples, p.2)

Jesus Christ is in every part of our humanity. He is not a cloak we put on when convenient. Mary gave birth to a very real living baby. Jesus really did walk this earth. He really did get tempted. He really did eat and drink. He really did call on his Father when life got rough. He really did get mad at injustice and ridiculousness. He really did treat others with dignity. He really did get pissed off at the Pharisees. He really did get flogged, pierced and crucified. Real blood was shed. Real flesh was ripped. Death did come to him.

So too, the kids need to see real life. They also need to see what happens when life is in need of God the Father, and he responds. They need to see that death was not the end of the story. Death was defeated by Hope, by Resurrection.

"The starting point for the ministry of evangelization 'is our recognition of the presence of God already in young people, their experiences, their families, and their culture...' " (Renewing the Vision, p. 36, Challenge of Catholic Youth Evangelization, p. 7-8)
As well, I can't stress enough that it will be in your relationships with others that Jesus Christ in the flesh is most strongly experienced and witnesses. Why do people leave a church? "That pastor did this to me" or "the secretary at the Church was mean to me". Why do we struggle with others we are trying to minister to? Maybe because we show Christ in our imperfect lives.

Nonetheless, it only means that we need to pursue our relationship with Christ first and foremost and become even more evangelized, even in the midst of being an evangelistic witness of Christ to others.

Christ chose to take on humanity and all it's disappointments ('cept sin). Are we then surprised when our work with others is hard? He carried his humanity even to the Cross. How far will we carry Christ to others?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Confession And Slate

I was pleasantly surprised at this article, particularly the ending.

The biggest barrier between Catholics and the confessional, however, may be the real effort it requires. Unloading your transgressions on the Internet takes a few computer clicks—you can do it on your coffee break. But done right, Catholic Confession demands a rigorous examination of conscience and real contrition, to say nothing of the prayers you may be assigned for penance and the thinking a priest may ask you to do about the ways you've let yourself and God down.

PS How many of you are using it on a REGULAR basis-as in consider using it monthly?


Yesterday morning I woke up before 6am with severe, severe pain in my left side. I rolled around in my warm bed for awhile before getting up to see if moving around would help. That, and a bathroom visit.

Nothing worked and I stood in my bathroom with my head resting against the wall trying to decide if 5:50am is too early to call my doctor brother. A wave of pain overtook me and I decided-nope, not too early.

I described the pain to him and he said it would be a good idea to go have it checked out. After I hung up I still wondered if the pain was severe enough to go to the hospital. I began to walk back to my bed when the answer came in blinding reality: Absolutely.

I got dressed and moved as quickly and cautiously as I could out into the cold to my car. I drove to what I thought was the hospital, which is only about a mile away and parked. As I walked towards the nearest door I saw a woman in scrubs and asked if this place had an ER. No, she replied-at which point the tears started rolling down my face. I couldn't believe I had come to the wrong place. It was a medical facility, but the ER had been moved to the newer location.

So I got back in my car, spent the next 10 minutes trying to get out of the parking garage, and over bumps and hills I made it to the ER across town.

The pain had subsided somewhat, so I went into the ER and they started the paperwork process. As I sat down with the admin nurse the pain returned with a vengence. She asked me why I was there (did she not see me writhing in the chair?) what was the problem and some medical history. In the middle of this she discovered that she'd lost her thermomoter and began to search for it. Search for it?! Find a new one! I'm in pain here, lady!

Finally we headed into the actual ER where they gave me bed #1, which I felt should mean "patient #1 and we'll take care of you right away". A nurse came in and asked me the exact same questions as the first nurse. "How severe is the pain on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst?" she asked "'bout an 8" I replied. Then the admin nurse came back in to ask more question. At this point I was standing, sitting, kneeling, rolling, walking around, anything to ease the pain. She wanted more information. I wanted a pain killer.

After her was the lab lady to come take blood. Take blood? With a needle? As in more pain? "Is there anyway we can do this later?" I begged. Obviously this was not an option because they can't have blood with pain killers in it. Three vials were taken and off she went. The ER nurse returned and I asked if there was anything I could get for the pain "Well, the doctor isn't here yet, so no, I can't". So, for the next 20 minutes I was in the most incredible pain of my life. (Clearly I haven't given birth yet, but everyone who has tells me that they rank about the same).

Time had long past since I said to myself "I can't take anymore of this" when the doctor finally arrived and asked "So, what are you here for?" Are you serious? "Don't you guys talk to each other?" I cryptically asked him. Then he wanted to feel the painful area for any swelling. He had to keep moving my hands away because each prod made the pain worse and I kept trying to push his hands away. It wasn't even a conscience thought-it was simply a reaction to the pain-QUIT TOUCHING IT FOOL! Again I was asked what the pain level was. At this point I said "A 10! Definately a 10!". A few minutes later my ER nurse came in with two long syringes. Hey, at this point, stick me anywhere, I'm not going to feel a thing.

So into the hip she stuck me. One for nausea from the pain medication, and one filled with pain medication. Right away I was grateful for the nausea medicine because that pain medication does a number on your stomach. I was still clinging to the guard rail for dear life, but glad to know that relief was soon to come.

About 20 minutes later the pain began to subside and an hour later I was blissfully unaware to the world around me. They moved me in and out of X-ray and a CT Scan and I barely remember what happened.

Finally the doctor came back in "Everything looks good-("really Doc? Because I wasn't feeling so good" flitted across my thought waves) you may have had a kidney stone and already passed it. We can't find anything on the x-rays or the other tests. I'm going to give you a presciption and you'll have to drink plenty of fluids all day to day."

Well lovely . All that pain for some tiny specs called kidney stones. If I'm going to be in that much pain I figure I should at least have surgery, maybe even a lolleypop for my trials. Guess my Percaset will have to do.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Just What You Didn't Want To Know

Former top official in Phoenix Diocese arrested.

uuuughhh. I realize Fr. Dale has removed himself from Lifeteen a few years back but his fingerprints are all over the program...and now they suspect them of being somewhere else as well. Just what we don't want to believe might be in fact truth.

We All Know He's There...

In the past few months since John Paul II has died I began to realize that I no longer have to mourn never getting to meet my hero: I can talk to him directly and beg him for intercession. I truly believe that he is getting even more work done up there than he ever did down here (we all know what that says) so why not make ourselves available to his intercession?

This is a prayer that I've been using quite often lately:

Dear John Paul II, Papa
You were the spiritual director of my formation. You inspired countless youth to live the ideal, to do something great with our lives
and not be ground down by mediocrity.
You instructed us that our dream of happiness was only found in Jesus,
that nothing else will satisfy or satiate our thirst for fullness.
Pray for me, I beg, as a faithful daughter/son for guidance and direction.
Intercede for me to the Father for direction in my life.
I choose not mediocrity or staleness, but joy, hope, and faith.
Guide me in my choices, bring to mind those things to pursue
and those things to leave behind.
I wish only to be a humble servant, following the ways of our Lord and bringing others to the hope and joy of salvation in Christ. Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Do You Want The Soda/Popcorn Combo, Holy Father?

I'm sure most of you have already seen this on Amy's site, and it's a few days old. But I kept scrolling down to it because it was so stinkin' funny.

No Blog For You!

I can get on board with schools setting up rules and computer access controls to keep kids from blogging. I get that teenagers, God love 'em, don't always realize what not to put on the internet. Things like their home or cell phone numbers, addresses, lots of pictures...details about their world that sickos peruse the internet in search of (and they find it incredibly easy with xanga and the like).

A Catholic school in Sparta, New Jersey has made this rule for their students, but it bothers me that they intend to extend it to the home.

But Msgr. Kieran McHugh, president of the Paterson diocesan high school, told students at a recent assembly that the school has banned Internet blogging in the school and at the students' homes.

"All these sites are havens for predators," he said. "The reason for the school's stand is to comply with the (Diocese of Paterson's) policy of protecting God's children."

I wonder Where are Mom and Dad? Why is the school telling them what should happen in their own home? Mom and Dad have got to be aware of what their kids are doing online! Sure, let the school inform the parents, but I get nervous when rules are made outside the home for inside the home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

But I Don't Like/Don't Know What To Do With That Kind Of Kid

Sometimes we need to advocate to our own selves for kids.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Youth Ministers' Retreat

Advocating for all those in youth ministry: GO to this RETREAT! Seriously. Can a retreat at Franciscan University be bad? As my YM buddy "Cuddy" used to say "I doubt it".


New-Job Girl here. A little overwhelmed at the end of each day.

However, I wanted to start with Advocacy because I believe it's one of the least understood parts of youth ministry-and one a lot of youth ministers feel like they do quite often, especially at staff meetings.

Advocacy can take many forms. I forgot my "Renewing The Vision" book-it's somewhere in my yet unpacked boxes-but I know it well and will speak from experience.

Advocacy. What does it mean to be an advocate? Well, you are speaking on behalf of someone else, esp someone else in need. Sometimes you will be an advocate for the youth to the parish staff. Sometimes you will be an advocate for youth to their parents. Sometimes you will be the advocate of the parents to the kids. Sometimes you will be an advocate of the youth to themselves. Sometimes you will be an advocate of God, calling his children to grow deeper with him.

When I worked in the inner city we often advocated financially to bigger corporations for money for our programs. It took a great deal of commiment to evaluate ourselves and give the money givers a solid idea of how our work was improving the community. But we wanted something more than social work done and we wanted money to go towards evangelization as well we better their lives.

When I was at my last parish I often advocated for the youth to their parents. I find the youth in suburban, esp affluent suburbia to be by and large exceptionally busy. Much of their involvement is to get it on their college-bound resume's so that they get into a good college. It's also a good way for parents to encourage their kids to stay out of trouble. There is a lot to be said for the discipline and teamwork that comes from their involvement in sports, theatre and other school-related activities. However it always seemed to be at the expense of the Church.

When reshaping the Confirmation program I included a service commitment: 2 hours 4 times a year. I'd set everything up and we did everything together (more about that in the "Service and Justice" piece) all they'd have to do is show up and be willing to serve. You would not believe the kvetching I heard from mom and dad. "Shelly has cheerleading every single Saturday and I'm not willing to make her take time out for this" "Bobby is already petting puppies down at the shelter, isn't that good enough? Can that count?"

I advocated for the kids to do the service in the way I'd set it up because it was the best way to get them involved, together as a community and do it in the context of prayer and serving. And ultimately, all the things I asked of them were avenues that would lead them to heaven and help them be open to the Lord. After all, isn't that what Youth Minsitry is about?

There were many times, MANY times when I did advocate in the ways that most people think about: A kid in trouble, a kid needing a reference for a job, a kid in the court system, trouble at home, youth doing fundraising to go to Workcamp, youth getting something in return instead of being slave labor for the other parish groups, advocating to the priest that the kids NOT do drama during Mass because this was not a good thing to teach them about the Liturgy.

What it takes is making sure that Christ is your center and remembering who you serve. Sometimes you will face challenges from those you advocate to. But the goal is to get people to heaven and surely that is worth by passing our fears and insecurities and speaking up for the Truth (with love and prudence of course).

Any thoughts?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Youth Ministry And The Great 8

Components, that is.

I read through Amy's blog about youth ministry as well as Dom's, and had a few reactions.

First, I'm a little tired of LifeTeen getting bashed, especially their style of liturgy. PRAISE AND WORSHIP STYLE OF MUSIC IS NOT ANTITHETICAL TO GOOD LITURGY! If it were, the Charismatic Renewal is in serious jeapordy, as are 3 Popes who affirm it's goodness in the Church.

My next reaction was how little people know about good and excellent Catholic youth ministry. I think that I was the ONLY one to talk about the 8 Components of youth minsitry and I'm guessing that very few people are even aware of what they are and how to implement them on the job.

The 8 Components came out of the Bishop's Document "Renewing The Vision" and are the framework for a full, thriving youth ministry and formation process. The "great 8" are: Advocacy, Prayer and Worship, Justice and Service, Leadership Development, Evangelization, Catechesis, Pastoral Care, and Community Life. They serve the 3 goals: 1. Youth Ministry works to foster the total personal and spiritual growth of each young person, 2. Youth Ministry seeks to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the faith community, and 3. Youth Ministry gives the world a sign of God's Kingdom by challenging the young to work for justice and peace among the poor and the oppressed.

Over the next week or so I'm going to blog about each component: what it means, ideas on how to implement it into your formation process and how it can work with the other components.

In the mean time, have a lovely weekend. Go State!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

NCYC: Amy's Take

I've taken the liberty of linking to Amy's thoughts about the NCYC event in Atlanta. I left my own thoughts of youth ministry on her site. As time allows I may flesh it out more here. A new job keeps me busy!