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.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Teaching Moral Virtues

Today half of the class gave their presentations. I'll have to say that they were all excellent and I'm sure Sister gave them high marks.

But the one that really stood out to me was the one our classmate Christie did on the moral virtues. Maybe because it is because it struck me where I'm at in my life or that Christie is simply classy and has her act together. Either way, she floored me.

Christie first showed a montage of pictures of Jesus enduring his passion, his face, and various pictures of the Sacred Heart with Josh Groban's song My Confession (which, by the way is an EXCELLENT way to teach and prepare kids for the Sacrament)

She quickly reviewed the first stage of St Therese of Avila's Interior Castle and went on to teach about the second stage. She talked about how the first stage was where sinners recognize and see the sin that is pulling them down and the second stage, sometimes the most painful, is where you work to apply virtue to remove those sins. (Obviously I need to read it...)

Not to knock anyone else, but I really enjoyed her presentation. I hope she gets a chance to actually use it.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Divine Revelation

Since Jen wrote about her catechesis on "God, the Father", I felt like I should write on mine. Like Jen, I was not so thrilled when I got "Divine Revelation" on my index card. I like to say it found me, not that I chose it. If there's one thing that I think I would never teach in a youth group setting, Divine Revelation, would be it. But I don't get to be ignorant like that. I walked around with an attitude for a couple days about it and then I got over it. The truth is, we don't get to pick and choose which parts of the deposit of faith we catechize about. We owe all of our kids the truth....the whole truth. So, I snapped out of it and am now digging the depths of the Catechism and reading about Revelation. There's so little that we teach about it and sometimes we come to forget it, but the truth is, we could know very little about God without it.

Revelation is Amazing! I know you guys know that, but having this as my catechesis is amazing. Try breaking down Revelation for a bunch of high schoolers...that's right friends, I'm using the Princess Bride, Matt Maher's "Love has Come" and of course a "gift" to show that God reveals to us gradually and in stages. Perhaps my favorite example that I've come up to teach Revelation is that God has given us everything that we need to know to win salvation. He's not going to start a game with us, and then half way through change the rules, and that friends is amazing. He's laid out for us the clearest path to him: his Son.

In fact, if there's one thing I want them to walk away with, it's this: LOVE HAS COME TO SHOW THE WAY!

I can't wait to teach this tomorrow and I hope that I can only give him Glory and Honor through my words. They will never be enough to describe him, but they are what we have. Please say some prayers for Jen and I as we go outside of the comfort zone to catechize our Church.

As soon as it's done and presented, I will try and post it up here. Jen and I are looking for a place in which we can all post things and have those resources available.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

God the Father

For class, we have to teach for 50 minutes on a topic that was quasi assigned to us. I drew "God the Father".

At first I was not too excited, but the closer my presentation time comes the more excited I am. One of the things that often bothers me is the absolute refusal of folks to refusal to call God Father-even though his Son did so.

Have you ever had to teach this lesson? At first I was going to start with the relationship between God and his bride the Church. And while this is true, I realized that I had to start a little further back than that. I had to start with the fact that God is neither gender, he is above and bigger than gender.

Which is where the trouble starts.

Have you ever read this passage in the Catechism and gone "hm. How do I get around this?"
239 By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

If your kids are like some that I've had, they will take that and go "see?"

If you are looking for a good-though short-answer to this question, read this by Mark Brumley at . I came upon it in the archives and is concise answer with depth.

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Responding To VA Tech

I don't mean to be so slow on this topic, but I've thought a great deal about this.

How do you deal with these issues with your crew?

When 9/11 happened I was doing YM in inner-city Boston. We had scheduled a jr high dance for that evening (boy. was. I. excited.). I called Fr Tom, who was then the director of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese-what do I do?

I ended up canceling the dance, though the kids still came, expecting a dance. It was a very weird evening and I wasn't sure what to do with them. We circled up and I asked them some questions-do they have family in NYC, what are they thinking, what was going on with them...

And they were squirly as all get out. Some wanted to talk, some wanted to just start the dance, some - well, were just spastic junior high kids that didn't know up from down.

Recently I read a post on a blog that I can't remember (tell me if you know) and the mother was asking her son about Virginia tech. She was a little baffled that he and his friends continued playing video games and relaxing. He responded (paraphrasing) that he couldn't be there, he couldn't do anything but pray, so he'd said a prayer and it was as much as he could offer.

Lest you think he was unfeeling, I wonder if some kids respond that way. It's not real until it happens to me, or you. Or my school, or to my friends. It's just simply not real.

At the same time, it sometimes seem that insanity like this is ... common. And that is sad.

I found this from the Source. I like a lot of their material. It is an interview from a youth pastor who had students at Columbine High School and went through that horror 8 years ago. He has some good insights and advice.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Exam Time

So Em and I have been feverishly slaving over homework and burnin' the midnight oil to get everything done by the end of the semester.

Ok. I'm not. I had one class that wasn't hard. It was a great class, but not difficult by any stretch of the imagination. Really-consider coming to the St John Bosco Conference to learn more about doing Catechesis. YES, even you, you youth minister type.

I knew I was a little above average as a youth minister, in some regards, because I wasn't in youth ministry because "I want to work for the Church and I don't know what else to do". That and I actually went to school to become a youth minister. That and I'm great with people (true) and administrative tasks (false). AND I'm so humble.

But enough about me. I'm going to post a few things from Youth Specialties that I hope you'll enjoy.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

City on a Hill: The Purpose and Identity of Catholic Higher Education

If you haven't heard, the University is hosting an academic symposium on the purpose and identity of Catholic Higher Education.

I think this is absolutely extraordinary.

The University invited over 100 Presidents and academic deans from Catholic Universities in the United States and around the world. Our keynote speakers include Archbishop Miller, the Secretary of the Congregation on Catholic Education at the Vatican, Honorable Mario Mauro, the Vice President of the European Union, Fr John Jenkins, CSC, President of the University of Notre Dame and Fr Garanzini, SJ President of Loyola University, Chicago.

Yeah, I know, huh?

Archbishop Miller spoke tonight about Ex Corde Ecclesiae and it was outstanding. He made me chuckle because he'd state a point then kinda shrug his shoulders as if to say "these are my words, these are THE words". He took questions afterwards which was quite interesting as well.

The crowd gathered is a mix of people with varying positions on what Catholic Higher Education should be. I'm working the Conference, so I get to go to nearly everything, however, I can't say I'll understand everything.

What I am excited about is that it is a forum for discussions and debate about a rather touchy issue, especially for the US. Say a prayer that all goes well, that everyone gathered, as well as those of us non-academics-all are renewed in our Faith and have a deeper love and drive to deliver the Gospel message.

For more info, go to:


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MLA...I Shoulda Knowed Ya

So, I stayed up all night writing my first 15 page paper in 8 years, having heart failure because I have so much to say and wondering how I'm going to fit it all in.

And then I thought, I really should check out MLA to be sure I'm doing it all correctly. So I do. And I read through the requirements.

And realize that I have written a 30 page paper.

Yes, folks, I stayed up all night researching, developing and writing a 30 page paper.

Who forgets about the glory of "double space"???

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virgina Tech

May the souls of the faithful departed
Through the mercy of God
Rest In Peace


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Can You See Me Now?

Em said that on her browser the left side there was all smushed to the bottom. However, it looks fine on mine (I am on a mac using Firefox), so I wouldn't know where to fix the problem.

How does it look on yours?

Any tech help out there?


Thursday, April 12, 2007



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

LOST:One Of Us

ok. I will admit. I'm hooked. Seriously hooked.


ok for starters, Sawyer and Kate? Not sure who Kate loves, but sure I've never seen Sawyer's face in love. Or an honest moment on Ben's face.

Now, do we like Juliette? Hmmm. She did baaad things. BUT she is the only one of "the Others" whose backstory we know. And it makes us feel compassionate for her.

THE Best part is that we are finally learning what the others were about, what they knew, how they knew everything...since we learned that there were "others" we've wanted to know what the heck they are doing on that island.

I'm so excited I'm actually blogging during the show.



Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Evaluating Culture

Don't quite know what else to call this post. It's going to be a label because Em and I are writing papers for class half affectionately called "Magnum Opus" or as Sister says "your best work yet".

The goal is to take something that the culture says is true, good and beautiful and prove that it's not.

I think it is vital that we, as youth ministers, really examine the world that we live in. Many of us, by now, have lived with "pop culture" being "the culture". Seriously: we all know things like John Hughes movies, punk rock. rap, MTV, reality tv, rubics cubes, xbox...we live in it and barely even recognize it.

Now, I'm not sure I can pitch it all out the window. I think my parents, in their own way, helped us kids discern what was worth bringing into our lives and what wasn't. ...even if sometimes it was that they wouldn't let us have it at all. But I'd have to say that most of Gen X and Gen Y do not have the ability to critique the culture we live in. I think most of us go along and don't even see it.

However, we not only have to recognize it's affects on our lives, but we have to teach the kids we work with how to evaluate what they are bringing into their world.

I'm sitting here writing this post and watching TV to evaluate commercials for my paper. I've tried to watch a variety of channels, knowing ads are different depending on the audience. Tonight's night is MTV. (Ok, so I watched Gilmore Girls on the CW first...I know, it fits into that genre Should I Really Be Watching This?). You don't even want to know what their own commercial is. You are going to die.

Pardon the digression here, but for starters, their slogan is "maturity is overrated". And...the commericals have to do with...mature content. But to the slogan: Doesn't this say so much?

So back to the evaluation of culture: We have to learn how to see it with a critical eye. The world isn't going to train us. We can't simply throw things out and just tell the kid "That's baaaaad". We have to be able to articulate HOW we, as Christians, can use the good in our culture, but how to be critical of what is not good in our culture.

How do we do that? Well, stay tuned for further posts as Em and I research and formulate our papers!


Being Catholic Rocks

Okay, I know that you guys all know that being Catholic rocks, but if you ever get a chance, come to the Easter Vigil at Franciscan University. It's unlike any other. It literally takes your breath away.

Today in class, we spoke about the Easter Octave. What other religion gives you the chance to celebrate Easter for eight days? None! That's why it's awesome to be Catholic. Easter's what we live for, the Eucharist is what makes us whole. This is what we see in the Easter mystery. Celebrate! Rejoice! Have an Easter celebration with your youth groups. It's amazing to see so many people in this place so full of the Holy Spirit in a radical and unreal way! The spirit moves you where he wants you go to, we just have to listen. I recently spoke with a friend who said he cried his way through mass on Sunday. When I asked him why, he said he didn't know, but the truth is that we do know. We're touched by his unending love. We live for his death, because it is in his death and his resurrection and acsension that we come to have life and live it more abundantly. Alleluia!

Please keep Jen and I in your prayers. We have a major paper due a week from today and we're both in need of many, many prayers. Thank you for your help!

He is Exulted!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Abba Pater

Of the few I browsed this morning Dom's is actually my favorite. Thanks Dom!

(PS I'll admit it-I still well up with emotion at things like this. I still hope to meet him for real one day!!)


Monday, April 02, 2007

Pope John Paul II: Two Years Later

When I went to Rome one of the things I was determined to get to was Pope John Paul II's tomb. It would be the closest I had ever gotten to my hero.

I felt a little bad that I was strolling right by so many other Popes. We have an extraordinary history with our Popes. However, being raised by John Paul, I felt the most connected to him and that I owed him so much of who I am to him.

I'm not going to lie. When I got there, I couldn't hold back the tears...again. Even two years later, I still found I miss him a great deal. There must be lots of pilgrims who need time with him because there is an area that is roped off so that people can sit and pray...or cry, as I did.

For me it was a graced time to sit and thank JPII for his sacrifices, prayer, encouragement, love and teaching. It was the closest, in body, that I've ever been to my hero, though I love that I can talk to him anytime I want now.

What really blessed me-and will stick with me for a long time-is watching the pilgrims going by. Many of the over 50 crowd seemed to meander on past his tomb. Now, maybe they weren't Catholic or weren't as attached to him as I am. But nearly every pilgrim who was 40 and under stopped, said a prayer, blew him a kiss and took some time at his tomb. Even better was watching high schoolers shush each other and say a prayer. They didn't have to be told: They got him. They knew he loved them. They know what he gave them. And they are our next leaders.


When the Holy Spirit Calls...

You might want to answer.

Several months ago I was involved in training for our student workers. It was a fine presentation, but I knew that they were going to forget the content as soon as they walked out the door. If they remembered anything it was "be nice to our participants". I knew I had to offer them something more.

I began to think about a program I did when I was in parish ministry. It is based on the 7 Habits for Highly Effective People and ties them to the 7 virtues. After each habit/virtue is learned, you do an activity that reinforces the idea. Participants more likely remember the activity than the lecture.

So I was thinking about it and more and more I felt "God saying You need to do this. Really, I'm not kidding, you need to pursue this. " So I put together a proposal and the short of the story is that Steve Colella, from the Archdiocese of Boston (and co-creater of the program) came out to do the training.

I was anxious that no one was signing up, and quite anxious about what the boss would say. Most bosses want the bottom line to be successful, and in my line of work, success is having people show up.

And 4 people showed up.

You'd think that would bother me. I think it bothers the boss. But Steve's visit to the University is going to be a package that will take a long time to unpack.

The program itself was a success in that the 4 people who went through it were impressed and enjoyed it-so much so that they said that they would have their students (or friends, we had one student) go through the program. The thing is, it's not "just another leadership program" it is a way of life. Since we are all baptized, we are all leaders in the Church, which means we need to continually grow in virtue and holiness. So, it is good for every kid, every staff and every baptized Christian.

Besides the "program", Steve was able to meet people and make contacts, which is what his boss wanted. I think it is the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Steve's employer and mine...

In the end, both of us said that the weekend was a rousing success. I know that I answered the call of the Holy Spirit and excellent things happened. I know that more could have happened if others had responded to the call as well. However, I cannot be responsible for that. I can call and invite, but others need to respond to that call . The lesson I learned is when the Spirit calls, answer, and get moving.