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 22, 2007

One week in...

This is my first post since starting what I like to call my "big girl" job. It's been an interesting week. I'm sorry that I haven't posted sooner, but a week in really isn't that bad.

I started on the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption. This was pretty much one of the best moves ever. How can you go wrong with Our Lady behind you?

The first day was a blur of meeting people, looking at what's on my computer, calling people because I have an extension, figuring out World Youth Day stuff, opening my desk drawers and then promptly closely them, hearing about the money counters who don't like youth group, learning about petty cash, and keys, sending a thousand emails to the guy who was the YM before me and a hundred other things. It was so nice though...No one rushed me, everyone was so kind and I have a sweet comfy office chair, and the staff, they're pretty much all stars, amazingly humble and so kind.

Since then, I've been full force. Some parts have been a blur, some parts have been insane (like spending five hours in the DMV to get a Virginia driver's license again so that I could get finger prints) and some of it has just been utterly refreshing. The last week in a nutshell has been an amazing and interesting week. I'm learning about church politics...apparently people who love youth can't do anything right with money, and apparently, I'll never make friends with the money counters...I guess from here I'll give the highs and the lows of the week.

I went to the Diocese's child protection training. It was graphic, but really good and I felt like it didn't waste my time. Nothing turns me off more than wasting my time by beating around an issue. I'm sad that we've had to come to this point, but I'm glad that the Diocese requires that you go. I truly learned alot. Plus, it was held at a BEAUTIFUL parish (St. Raymond a Pentefort) and it took my breath away. Thanks for that sweet Jesus.

The next day, my Godson was baptized. It's amazingly humbling to see a child become a new creation. It made me fall in love with Catholicism again. I mean really. Amazing! Here's this sinless child, grafted into the Body of Christ. Forever. I know there's some great theological discourse that could go on here, but basking in the moment really made me humbled and really showed me Christ in a new and radical way. I'm called to help this child get to heaven. I have to answer for him on judgement day. My salvation is wrapped up in his salvation (just like all Catholics), but it felt like this in a more radical way. My favorite part of baptism, is after the renewal of baptismal vows, the priest says "This is the faith. The faith of our Church". That's it...all wrapped up into a neat package. This is our faith, a faith people died to be a part of, and now I get to pledge that for a child. The big challenge in baptism comes for me when the priest says: "Wear this outward garment as a sign of your dignity, take it unstained to heaven"! (okay, that's not exact, but close...) Whoa, I mean whoa to that....God's really lit a fire under my heart in regards to purity and chastity, and what a better example of purity then this perfectly white garment on a child. I mean, of course it's going to get stained, because we're fallen people, but this shows our dependence on God. It was one of the happiest days ever. I get to walk with a child to heaven. I'm honored and humbled to walk this journey with Mr. Arthur Edison.

That night was our Blue Room Night (Youth group), to which I was hesitant to have, but still put on. I felt extremely unprepared to do it. I've been left very little by my predecessor, so I didn't really have a list of adults, so I wasn't really sure who'd come and help. We were waiting to hear from someone as to whether or not they'd lead it. They couldn't come, so I led it, which I should, because you know, I'm the youth minister.

The Blue Room Night was interesting. I had three adults come and help me out, and apparently, they come to like everything which is so nice. They were really welcoming and so amazing. They made me a welcome banner (which was sweet) and they kind of ran through what a normal session was like: sport, holy hour (which is really, a holy 45 minutes), and then a discussion in our youth room (it's painted blue...blue room nights....get it...). I knew we couldn't do a Holy Hour because Fr. was away, but they informed me that when Father was away, they just did some p and dub (praise and worship...) or a rosary in its place. The sports were okay, really it just turned into throwing around a football (by that I mean, they threw and I attempted, rather badly to catch...) and playing on the play ground (the key to the gym doesn't work and we ran out of time to fool around with it and the rest of the balls in the blue room are flat...).

After sports, we went to the chapel and prayed a rosary after p and dub. I was totally unprepared to be inspirational, so I said a few words about Our Lady's Assumption, which I hope made sense and led the rosary. It was okay, but I know that Jesus had his hand it in.

After the "Holy Hour" we went back over to the blue room. Normally, they have a catechesis and a discussion (from what I could gather), but since I didn't know anyone, we played some game and did some intro questions...(a truth, a lie and your momma went over far better than the last time I played it). It was really nice. I think they liked just kind of getting to know me and each other. It wasn't really time for me to launch into my depth of catechetical knowledge just yet. Of course we had pizza and of course, they ate it and we hung out and it was fun. It went so quickly I can hardly see each part of it individually. Overall, I don't think it was a bad night....but I did find a few things out that apparently REALLY bother me...alot more than I thought.

Like this for example: My office is in the youth room. I didn't think I liked that at first, but now I see it as very beneficial (kids can come in after school and study, I'm in the basement and people aren't walking in all day to find something out because I'm pretty much alone down there...so that is nice). So, I'm okay with it being in there. But I'm not okay with my teens being on it. One adult was updating the webpage which was okay, but the only counter space is near my desk...now near doesn't mean on it, but I guess it's close. So, we went to have pizza and a kid just plopped himself down at my desk and stuck his pizza on top of my desk. Like DIRECTLY on top of it, after he stuck it on top of my papers. There were plates right there...I mean really. Also, this teen went into my desk and was looking for scissors and said to me, "Hey, your scissors aren't where they normally are"...all I wanted to say, was...GET THE HECK OUT OF MY DESK, but instead I said...nope they're not. I don't want to go into the place changing everything, but I have to have some boundaries. I could hardly stand that they were sitting in my chair, going through my desk and putting pizza on top of my stuff. I realize that my desk is in the youth room, but it's my space. I'm going to have to set some boundaries, especially because a lot of confidential stuff could potentially be on my desk at some point. Besides that, it's my space to work and I need people to allow that area to be my space. I'm going to buy a room dividing screen and put it up during my blue room nights, so that they know not to go to my desk, also, a staff member suggested moving my chair out from my desk and putting it somewhere else, so that kids aren't sitting there...any suggestions?

Also, all of this movement from the field/gym to the chapel to the blue room really made it difficult to watch the teens. I went to the chapel and realized I was missing kids. Apparently, some of them leave after sports and they come in at various times during the night, which is okay, but maybe I should have them tell me when they leave. So, I realize not everyone's there and I go looking for the teens, because you know, I can't lose kids on my first night. As I'm firing myself in my head, because I lost kids MY FIRST NIGHT, I found them, waiting close to the edge of the Church's property. A boy and a girl, waiting for the boy's girlfriend. I was a little mad, but I kept my cool and said, hi, I need you to come back with me and stay where we are...I don't think I explained that they can't go off on their own. I was upset, but trying not to lose it. I mean, a boy and a girl together alone...whoa, not cool. They said sorry, so they must have known I meant business, but still who knows.

Apparently, these kids need boundaries, big ones, set on them, or at least different boundaries then before. I know I can do it in a kind way, but I'm so worried about resistance. They love Ryan (my predecessor), so I know they're already hesitant to let me in, although, they've all been so welcoming. So, after our kick off (September 16th), we'll be having Boundaries 101!

Monday was a blur..I was struggling to think...I don't know what was up. Tuesday we had a staff retreat. My staff is great, and I love Father. He's so amazing and so holy.

Today was the Diocesan kick off for youth ministers. It was great. By the way, in case you don't know, I work for the best Diocese in the world. The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is rock solid. I've loved it for a long time, and today was no exception. So many people were welcoming. It's a place where we were encouraged, where we laughed alot, had an insanely good time and we prayed. The day provided such a call to go back to God in prayer and for that to be our super power...that the EUCHARIST is our strength...awesome. I love this job, I love this diocese, I love that people are living it, faithfully and without fear...

The first week, was sort of expected, sort of crazy, but definitely a story. I'm pretty sure I'm going to love St. Louis. I'm so glad I'm there, and not in Minnesota (what was I thinking). Please keep me in your prayers, keep my kids in your prayers. Pray for our kick off (I'm not having youth group for a few weeks to dig out of the piles in my desk, and closets etc) and that I can always decrease so that he might increase.

In everything, we do our work for the greater glory of God. May everything that we do be a moment that leads to glory of God. I'm praying for you, I'm praying for your teens.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Keith Strohm said...

Emily,

Congratulatons on your new job! If you are ever in need of resources, just shoot me a line. One of the great things about youth ministry are all of the youth ministers that are willing to help each other out.

9:56 AM  
Blogger lar said...

Congrats on the new position. What you wrote about the numbers people rings true to the experience of others, even though I've never had the experience myself. Course then, I'm a volunteer and hardly ask the parish for a dime. But here's a quote I got in an email from a fellow YM:

"I just finished a 45 minute impromptu conversation with our business manager. In a nut shell, we just talked about if youth ministry really works out here in good ole Washington, MO and if me being employed here is really a good use of the parish’s money."

But don't give up trying to work with them and be friendly. It's what Christ has called you to.

4:26 PM  

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