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 30, 2006

Justice and Service part II

Before I lost everything I had begun a series on the "Great 8" as I call the 8 Components of Youth Ministry. One of the entries was on Justice and Service. I got talking with some veteran youth ministers and one suggested I write a paper and submit it. So that's just what I'm going to do.

However I am very very interested to hear if anyone else has significant thoughts on this area of youth ministry. If you don't, but know of someone who would, please get them to come here and put some thoughts down.

Very VERY briefly, my perspective is that kids needs to be doing work for others. For starters, it's a part of our baptismal call. Secondly, it gets them thinking about other people for a change.

I'm of the opinion that it should NOT be a typical secular-school required "Service project". I don't consider shelving books at the local library or feeding dogs at the shelter a service or justice issue. No, I believe very strongly that our mission is to serve people. First. Those other things can come alongside, but Jesus' commandment was to "love others as I have loved you". I don't think he meant dogs.

I also believe that it should be done within the context of community. (PS a great way to include another Component). There will be kids who are terrified to go talk to an elderly person and other kids who are totally ready. Pair them together!! Help them help each other help others!

Finally I think pastoral care and prayer are integral to the event. Always spend time at the beginning explaining what will be happening and what is expected of them. Save time at the end for reflection and responses. I'll either come up with some questions or do the "Mad, Sad Glad" thing. (Which most describes you after this event and why). Always begin in prayer, always end in prayer.

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Awesome! Public School Dress Codes?!

I got this from Mark Shea, but I just had to post it.

Great line: "This was the worst year I've seen in a long time," said Principal Theresa Mayerik. "It's gotten out of control, and we needed to send a message that we're not messing around"

Go Principal Mayerik! She is my hero today. Gosh, I might have to make her my hero for the week!

Speaking of College Kids

A few facts about the class of 2010 via Beloit College:(Some of them I didn't even know, like the broadcast used to end with the National Anthem? Brides were supposed to wear different colors for their subsequent marriages? oh.d'oh!)

1.The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2.They have known only two presidents.
3.For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4.Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5.They have grown up getting lost in "big boxes."
6.There has always been only one Germany.
7.They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
8.They are wireless, yet always connected.
9.A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
10.Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.
11.A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
12.Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
13.Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
14.The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.
15.They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
16.DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.
17.They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.
18.They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
19."Google" has always been a verb.
20.Text messaging is their email.
21.Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
22.Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.
23.Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.
24.Madden has always been a game, not a Superbowl-winning coach.
25.Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.
26."Boogers" candy has always been a favorite for grossing out parents.
27.There has never been a "skyhook" in the NBA.
28.Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.
29.Computerized player pianos have always been tinkling in the lobby.
30.Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing religious organizations in the U.S.
31.They grew up in mini-vans.
32.Reality shows have always been on television.
33.They have no idea why we needed to ask "...can we all get along?"
34.They have always known that "In the criminal justice system the people have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups."
35.Young women's fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.
36.They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
37.Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.
38.Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
39."So" as in "Sooooo New York," has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else
40.Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series.
41.They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.
42.Ken Burns has always been producing very long documentaries on PBS.
43.They are not aware that "flock of seagulls hair" has nothing to do with birds flying into it.
44.Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.
45.Green tea has always been marketed for health purposes.
46.Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.
47.Small white holiday lights have always been in style.
48.Most of them never had the chance to eat bad airline food.
49.They have always been searching for "Waldo."
50.The really rich have regularly expressed exuberance with outlandish birthday parties.
51.Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.
52.They never played the game of state license plates in the car.
53.They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.
54.There have always been live organ donors.
55.They have always had access to their own credit cards.
56.They have never put their money in a "Savings & Loan."
57.Sara Lee has always made underwear.
58.Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.
59.Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.
60.They never saw Bernard Shaw on CNN.
61.Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.
62.Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.
63.Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
64.LoJack transmitters have always been finding lost cars.
65.Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time.
66.Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.
67.Disposable contact lenses have always been available.
68."Outing" has always been a threat.
69.Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect graduation gift.
70.They have always "dissed" what they don't like.
71.The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.
72.Richard M. Daley has always been the Mayor of Chicago.
73.They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.
74.Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.
75.Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.
© 2006 Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin

Friday, August 25, 2006

Keeping College Kids In Prayer

When I went to go visit my old parish I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with some of my volunteers. One of them was a mom and she and I had dinner together.

Her kids had been very involved in our program and her eldest, a girl, went off to college this past year. She went to a local state university and because housing was tight she was put in an apartment type setting with upper class girls.

Just before school started last year she began seeing a 23 year old young man. Mom and especially Dad were not crazy about this. What does a 23 year old man want with an 18 year old girl?? Well, girl convinced them that she would not let that happen. I was hopeful. After all, this is one the girls who helped lead retreats, gave talks, talked openly about her relationship with God, rolled her eyes when the "sex talks" came around each year because "I got it. I'm not gonna have sex before I get married, we're all good there!".

But how many of us have seen our precious seniors go off to school and forget their high school promises? Mom found evidence not only of activity, but also a pregnancy test. She could not believe it. (PS this is a vigilent and smart mother, she'd pulled the wool over her own mother's eyes, so she knew what to watch for). Mom and Dad were devestated.

What really makes me frustrated and so very sad is how college adversly affects too many kids. I love watching them in their senior year becoming so mature and so capable, so steeped in God only to walk onto a campus and party, hook up, drink and quit going to Mass.

One of the best things I think we can do is pray for them. Pray and try to maintain contact with them. At one of the parishes I worked at they had a tradition of doing an overnight retreat during Christmas break. Young Adult Ministry might not be part of your job title, but what a great opportunity to minister as well as remind them of the goodness of their high school convictions.

Also, try finding out what campus ministries there are and challenge them to get connected. I'm of the opinion that even if it's not a Catholic ministry, it will still bode better for them than if they are totally unconnected to anything Christian. One of the girls who is now at UofM is a part of Fellowship of Christian Atheletes. She went through training her freshman year and is now leading bible studies. Works for me. The accountability that she has amongst her friends is keeping her on the straight and narrow.

By the way, if there is a University Christian Outreach or a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the Universities your kids go to, hook them in!


From Zenit "Recent studies confirm long- standing concerns about how the media influence children and adolescents."(Zenit News Aug 19th).

Not to be so blase' about what we seemed to already know, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study done with 1461 teens ages 12-17. This particular study was geared towards degrading vs non degrading music and it's effect on the teens:

In our weighted longitudinal sample, 17% had ever had intercourse at baseline, 29% at the first follow-up assessment, and 53% at the second follow-up assessment...

... the influence of sexual music content on teens' sexual development is specific to content that is sexually degrading. In our coding scheme, lyrics classified as degrading depicted sexually insatiable men pursuing women valued only as sex objects. These types of portrayals objectify and degrade women in ways that are obvious but do the same to men by depicting them as sex-driven studs whose individual desires are subsumed in their gender role. Adolescents who listen to a lot of music containing these objectifying and limiting characterizations of sexuality progress more quickly in their sexual behavior, regardless of their race or gender.

Now, I'm the first one to be careful to criticize music to a kid's face. Music is SUCH an important part of their lives, esp now that everyone seems to have their own IPod. However, I think have discussions about what they are listening to is paramount. BIG.

The study is worth a look over. Don't worry about the stats language, you'll get the gist of what is going on. I think the article from Zenit does a good job of summing it up.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Great Catechetical Site

Aptly named "Catechetics Online" they have an abundance of resources, ranging from articles to chat, message boards, link pages, a blog: all kinds of great things!

They are brand spankin' new-well actually, their Grand Opening is August 31st, so they are so new that they aren't well, except that they are.

At any rate, it seems that the more folks go there and use them the better the site will become. I have always believed that there is a great deal of wisdom out in the ranks. A great deal of wisdom and information from taking Catechetical courses, but like myself, I'm guessing that there are plenty of folks who have had to put their own materials together because there has been a lack of good stuff.

So, check 'em out. And see the new banners I put at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Forget Serious

I was going to post something about "Exposure to Degrading Sexual Lyrics" but after below's post? I think we can wait a day or two.

Snakes On A Plane!

Has GOT to be the dumbest name for a movie and the DUMBEST concept for a movie!

But their marketing department is pretty smart! I can't tell you how many people I've sent this to, just because I think it's hilarious!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Sower's Book Reviews

So below I told you about The Sower magazine. It's a great resource if you are also doing Confirmation or other Catechetical work. Again, I'd also advise coming to the Bosco conference held at Franciscan University.

I have found a few reviews that might be helpful as you are getting ready for this upcoming year.

If you are doing Confirmation and your parish doesn't do it the "restored order" way I have two resources I think are par excellance.

First up is LifeTeens' R.O.C. program or "Rite Of Confirmation". It is written for the 8th grade but you can upgrade it for other grades as well. What I like most about this particular program is that it unabashadly proclaims the Truth in all it's glory and fullness, but in a totally cool way that kids can relate to. Quite often I find that texts that have the fullness of faith lack the relatability factor. In my opinion if you don't have a way for the kids to connect to it, you might as well be teaching quantum physics. They won't get it and they won't apply it to their lives. The teachers' manual is solid as well and gives you a variety of ways to apply that weeks' lesson.

Second up is Eric Westby's Confirmation and Renewal Curriculuum. As Bob Rice's review says "The aim of this curriculuum is to assist teenagers in making a respone to Jesus Christ, with the goal of sending them on apth towards life-long discipleship in the Catholic Church".

I have not had the opportunity to browse through it myself, but knowing Eric's background in youth ministry and then his work in Catechesis, I believe he will bring the Church and the youth together in a way that will assist youth in connecting to Jesus Christ through the beauty and truths of our Faith. It appears that it is geared towards older students, as it can be used for Confirmation or for Juniors and Seniors. Bob's review also makes mention that it is not a total Youth Ministry package, but meant to be used in the context of comprehensive youth ministry. My guess would be that "Catechetical" part of comprehensive youth ministry. But that' s just me. Go to the link above and download the links, particularly the Sample Copy of the Coordinators' Copy. That has good info in it.

PS I'm still looking for an online link for LifeTeens' ROC program. Will get it to you when I find it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Good Things

And yet there is much good to rejoice over. Like my two year old nephew hitting me on the leg "Aun'Jen, Aun'Jen...Up! UP!" So it drives a mother crazy, but for an aunt who is out of town, it's music!

Also good is spending time with my niece, Grace and getting to meet my new nephew, Andrew.

Peeling Onion Layers

I went back to the town where I was last a youth minister. I got to see my awesome volunteers, a few students and tonight I had dinner with one of the families that I got quite close to. I found myself missing these people so very much and wondering, yet again, what was wrong with that pastor who let me go. Pardon me "didn't renew my contract".

I thought I had gotten over it, and mostly I have. I don't dwell on it and I don't have the urge to curse when I think of the pastor. However, I did find myself grieving again for what will never be. For the relationships that had to be cut off. For the kids and their siblings who I won't get to grow with. For all the programs that were in their infancy and needed some time to mature. For decisions I made that weren't popular to germinate and be found worthy of the parents' support.

Then I played the "if only" game. If only he had been more patient, if only I had fought harder, if only he could have a clue as to what is needed in youth ministry, if only he, if only he... if only he...

But, he didn't. And here we are. Here I am. Driving out of town. Mourning again, peeling off more layers of the damage done. There is good in this somewhere...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Vaca, baby

Well, I'm off on vacation!

Last Friday I went into work and could hardly keep my eyes open. The adreniline of the Summer Conferences finally wore off and I said "I'm tired!". So I'm home to Michigan to see friends in Holland and my family in GR and Lansing. And I'm going to get some serious beach time in as well.

I may post. I know that it's time to start gearing up for Fall programs. I'd hoped to get more resources up. I'll work on that...

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Well, I've been trying to recreate some of the stuff I had over there on the sidebar. The one nice thing is that I can to all the changes I had always been meaning to do. It's comin' , it's comin'!


Hey, Did anyone go to Workcamp this year? How'd it go? Who did you go with? Are the Catholic ones catching up to the non-Catholic ones? I loved working with Catholic Heart especially the Jamaican Trip.

Just curious.

Attitudes and Abortion

I was browsing some of my other blogstops and Amy over at Open Book had this link.

Frontline also has their take on it. Can hardly believe that anyone would be traditional minded...

And a study from Hamilton College, NY.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Proud2BCatholic Concert

If you are anywhere on the Northeast shorline, go to to THIS EVENT. Pete (Dom's brother in law, BTW) has done an outstanding job of getting these events off the ground. I went to some of the earlier concerts and they have stayed with this and it is a great success.

Check out the other concert dates as well. Proud2BCatholic is an excellent concert master and you and your kids will NOT be dissappointed.

Searching Made Easy

Y'know, I don't know if you know this, but while I'm reposting everything, you can go up to that search space-"search this blog" and enter stuff like "service" or "games" or "social nights" or whatever and come up with past posts. But make sure you hit "search this blog" or you're gonna get more than you wanted. Trust me on this.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bosco Briefing

For starters, working with the Catechetics deparment from the University is a joy and a delight. Love 'em all.

The honored guests were three visitors from Maryvale Institute in England. Ok, you think catechesis is bad here? They have a greater task, if you ask me. Fr Paul Watson, Dr. Petroc Willey and Stephen Yates are at Maryvale and have made significant contributions to the catechetical world. And great fun, all of them. Maryvale has had a magazine called the Sower which is now available in the US for the first time (yeah!) GET IT.

Since this is the first time in history that the Bosco conference has run smoothly (thanks to the great work of Scott Sollom, Ron Bolster and company) I was able to sit in on some of the workshops.

I opted to go to the Advanced Youth Ministry courses, naturally. (For more information about the various tracks go to the conference website: and then to the Bosco Conference.)

Before I get in depth into the content-which appears might have to be another post-I want you to get to know some names. These people are the movers and shakers of Catholic Youth Ministry. If you don't know them, you should:
Bill Marcotte-director of Youth and Young Adults for the Diocese of Phoenix. Also the creator of Youth Arise North America (I call it the Catholic version of the Jesuit Volunteer Corp). He has beein in youth minister since 1984 and a pioneer in evangelization and youth catechesis. I got to sit and talk with him-what a joy and a servant. And his daughter will be here at the University in the fall! Yeah! (PS there is a TON of great information on the Diocese of Phoenix youth ministry website)

Eric Westby is Bill's boss...pray for Bill...Eric is the Director of the Office of Family Catechesis. Eric and I went to school together, but he has done great work in Catechetical work and in youth ministry.

Gina Bauer has been in youth ministry for 18 years-and still acts like a teenager! She has a unique take on the whole Chastity issues with girls "It needs to stop being about what they are wearing and about WHO THEY ARE! They are Daughters of the King!". Love her. I just love her.

Jim Beckman has been a youth minister for over 20 years. He also got his degree from Franciscan and had been on the speaking and hosting circuit for the youth conferences. He has also had a thriving ministry at St Francis Cabrini in Denver, CO as well as serving as the Director of Catechsis for Life Teen. You gotta have heard of him. Check out his new venture: The Impact Center.

Bob Rice. Bob Rice is my friend. It says so on his promotional sticker that I got from him. He is a friend and a dear one at that. He is my hero because he is heading up the Youth Ministry coursework under the Catechetics Department here at the University.

Well, if all those links don't keep you busy, I don't know what to tell you. Have fun getting to know these folks and their good work. And pray for them. Youth Ministry on the national front is due for a makeover-and these good and holy people are just the ones to do it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Fusion Catholicism"

I'm opening my work mail this morning and there is a note from PR letting me know that this particular arch-conservative news service (who shall remain nameless because I refuse to give them any free publicity) has run an unflattering article about the Charismatic and Youth Conferences.

Since I won't say who it is, I can't quote them, techincally, (which I may re-think if this continues to get under my skin) but let's just say that it appears to them that there is only one way to worship God: Their way.

I am fine if folks prefer traditional music and worship. But the beauty of the Church is all the different ways we CAN worship God-even within the context of liturgy, yes! This particular article found it difficult to believe that such a bastion of orthodoxy would permist such rhythmic drum pounding, electric guitars and *gasp* electric piano. They made fun of speaking in tongues, resting in the Spirit, peoples hands outstretched towards heaven. The writer insisted on proclaiming certain legitimate practices "Protestant". It was just all too much for this interloper.

All I have to say is: Get a hobby. One that doesn't involve creating and deepening divisions within the Church. Lord knows we have enough enemies on the outside we don't need to fight amongst ourselves.


I know, invite you all here and then post nothing. And loose everything! Well, today I'm going to fix that. As I re-post my sidelines I'm also going to start posting things I learned at some of the Conferences, particularly from Bosco.

For those interested, I'm going back to school this fall and will study Catechetics-mostly because I'm intrigued with the whole plan that seems to work so well. And I love Sr Johanna. So watch for more in this area.