Because of Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the bulletin company requires us to turn in our bulletins much earlier than usual. For this reason, I am writing my bulletin letter for this weekend only a couple days after having met with high school youth at our all-parish event Wednesday, December 16th.
We had a “Theology on Tap” evening with food and conversation. Mike Iler graciously hosted us at his Pasttime Restaurant in Paulding. The menu was simple: sloppy Joe’s, chips, pop, with cookies and caramels for dessert. I spoke about what I thought was a “God-counter” with a group of youth (not from our parish) I ran into over at our Payne campus playground after the Day of Grace confessions. Then I talked about how I finally found priesthood as my primary vocation in life. Then the students asked me a bunch of questions. The students – and the questions – were awesome: questions ranging from priestly clothing to purgatory. I thought the event was so simple and fruitful that perhaps we should consider just planning it in once each semester, as a way for the students and the pastor to check in with each other. I will be talking with the YDisciple group leaders and the high school core team to see what they think about this idea.
Overall, looking back at our first semester of this new high school YDisciple program, I am very content. It seems to me that both group leaders and students have put so much good time and effort – goodwill – into growing together in holiness, in their relationship with Jesus Christ and their understanding of the Faith. I cannot be more grateful for the work our YDisciple leaders are doing, as well as the high school core team leaders. I believe this program truly is an answer from the Blessed Virgin Mary for me at a time when I asked her specifically to guide me regarding how to serve our high school youth.
Earlier today I put the final touches on our winter-spring high school syllabus, including regular YDisciple meetings three times a month, and then one whole-campus event together once a month. That is the pattern we have been following. We are trying to keep our whole-campus events on Wednesday nights, because that is the night people expect for religious programs. Although all of the details are not yet in place, we have on the schedule for this next semester a fun night with pizza and dodgeball at our Payne campus. Then we are looking at an evening of bingo and cards at one of the nursing homes. Then in May, in preparation for Memorial Day, we are hoping to spend a Wednesday evening cleaning up our two cemeteries. Finally, perhaps we will do another Theology on Tap.
Looking forward to summer, the core team and I discussed one late-July event: a picnic cookout with yard games, swimming and boating at the old Klinger Beach. The owners there have told me they would be very happy to host such an event. To that summer event we would invite all the families of our high school students, as well as all of our junior high students. That should help with the transition from the junior high program to the high school, for those who are making that academic leap.
Hopefully the YDisciple groups can meet once or twice on their own throughout the summer, just to stay in touch. A cookout or two together?
Which brings me to mention our junior high youth group. I have stopped in a couple times on their meetings. They also seem to be thriving. Once again, I am so encouraged by the junior high youth who are going out of their way to make sure they get fellowship and teaching in the Faith even beyond the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And the junior high group leaders put so much work into planning and executing those meetings. I am very thankful for them as well!
I hope your New Year’s celebrations were rich! Remember something for your spiritual life in your resolutions! What about taking in a course or two from our Formed.org program? Every once in a while we will publish in the bulletin a reminder of the the Formed.com website and our other internet opportunities for growth in the Faith and for keeping in touch with the parish (parish website, Facebook, pastor’s twitter page, and Formed.org program).
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,