Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
Here are some pastoral initiatives we’ve been discussing for our parish:
First, for quite some time now we’ve envisioned creating a consistent venue into which we could invite non-Catholics, or Catholics who are somewhat on the fringes, perhaps not practicing… Invite them to experience a place where they can casually speak about Faith matters. We envision experienced Catholics sharing some of their faith life, along with their knowledge of particular topics. The experience should be informative and evangelistic, helping everybody grow in the Faith. We are calling this opportunity for encounter “Catholic Chat”. Sometimes the Mass is not the first place to invite people. And sometimes people are not ready for RCIA. We hope this new endeavor will serve as a Faith refresher for current Catholics, and as an instrument for outreach for all our parishioners who have somebody nearby who could benefit from such a venue of Faith fellowship. You will hear plenty about this program in the near future.
Second, the Diocese recently announced a junior high youth gathering called, Holy Fire Great Lakes. It will meet Sunday, October 13, 2019; 9 AM-4 PM. For some years now it has been my desire to have for our junior high school youth one life-changing, huge conference or service opportunity per year. Now, this junior high retreat day has come to us! I hope that all junior high parents will mark this on the calendar, and make sure their junior high youth get to attend. Theresa Conley can answer questions, and we will facilitate as much as possible from the parish office. I hope all parents of our youth can agree with me on the importance of such big experiences in the Faith. We all need those mountaintop experiences in the Faith… Experiences to which we can look back in more troubled times… experiences that add to the Faith foundation already built in our life.
Third, along the same lines, we have been thinking for the past few years about how we can build in a yearly high school youth Faith experience that is big and life-changing. With this in mind, we advertised last year a powerful retreat/adventure opportunity for high school Catholic youth at the Damascus Catholic Mission Camp, near Columbus Ohio. (It was in the winter, and perhaps not well-timed for our local schedules?). We also filled a couple spots on a bus to one of the Steubenville conferences this summer. The Steubenville experience has helped many youth I know at past parishes. Perhaps we could get some parents behind a bigger group going to a Steubenville conference. We’ve also done some initial research into the Catholic Heart Work Camp, which has service-retreat opportunities around the country each summer, many within driving distance. I learned about the Catholic Heart Work Camp, because a very large group goes from Edgerton Saint Mary’s Parish each summer. The experience is life-changing for the youth who attend. We learned that once the first group went, they had no problems getting it to happen each year, because it was so powerful for the kids.
So, there are some ideas we have researched, and some we have even advertised. I think the next step would be to have a group of parents commit to one of these ideas, and help us make it happen, for the sake of our young people’s faith life. We can’t take advantage of all of the opportunities out there. But, could we perhaps choose one that seems to fit best into most families’ schedules, or the one that most parents are attracted to (along with their children), and delve fully into the opportunity to experience its effect on our children’s lives? I think a yearly, poweful youth conference or service opportunity would be a great supplement to the junior high and high school youth programs we already have. The junior high PSR and monthly youth group, and the high school YDisciple program are all super solid, constant offerings at our parish. But, I think a yearly conference/retreat or service experience would be a great addition, filling out our youth ministry offerings. Please give this some thought – especially you parents who have junior high or high school youth. Thank you so much for the consideration!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,
Father Joseph Poggemeyer