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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, 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!

5 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

"One of the best things I think we can do is pray for them. Pray and try to maintain contact with them."

Amen!


There was a girl in our youth ministry a few years back who was at every mass, every retreat, every service project . . . signed a chastity card . . . she was all in. After she graduated, she met a guy, and a while later, I learned she was pregnant. I was really shocked, but I think it was one of those situations where she really liked the guy, wanted to keep his attention, and eventually gave in. He's not a bad guy - just doesn't have a relationship with the Lord, and consequently wasn't looking to protect her chastity (or his for that matter).

And of course all of us involved in the youth ministry were at a loss . . . disappointed for her, questioning ourselves and whether we were sowing seeds that would continue to grow for life or that birds would come and devour . . . maybe even had our pride hurt a little that this could happen to "one of ours" . . . really just confused.

She chose to have her baby.

And what a beautiful baby.

She chose to have her baby baptized.

And what a beautiful baptism.

A few weeks ago she called me and asked me to help her out with something. We went and got something to eat at a local diner, and we had a cool talk about all that had happened . . . how having sex outside of marriage was not God's will . . . but how God would work with us even when make bad choices if we turn back to Him . . . how the Lord had blessed her decision to have her baby and raise it herself with the father . . . how happy and beautiful her baby was . . . yes, there are now limitations as a result - education is more difficult, bills (rent, diapers, formula), less sleep . . . but a lot of happiness and joy.

You know, it's not a perfect story by a long shot. It's not exactly the way we drew it up in practice. But neither is my story - because I am a sinner. And I could tell from our conversation that the seeds hadn't been eaten or stolen, they had just gone into dormission for a while when she ignored them, but they were alive and hanging on . . . and there is hope, and a beautiful baby, a family, and a God who loves them all even more than I do.

As you said, the thing we can do for them - and it is the most effective thing - is pray.

Thanks for reminding me.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

You are Right! FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic Univeristy Students) is a great place for students. I should know, I am a missionary myself.

3:10 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Tim,
Isn't it great to know that it depends on God and not us? It can be a challenge, however when we see these things happen. You wonder if you're effective, if you are doing the right "things". I guess it's kinda like parenting. You do your best and hope that something sinks in!

5:42 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

jacqueline
Where are you? How'd you get connected to FOCUS?

5:43 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

I became connected with FOCUS at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. I am a missionary at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

sorry for the delay.

12:52 AM  

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