I've just returned from an overnight retreat for jr. high youth in our Deanery.
There were over 35 jr. high kids in attendance from 3 churches. The retreat was facilitated by two adults from a parish in Cary, NC and for the most part, the kids were engaged, thinking and looking for that "something" which makes sense of their world. As a Catholic youth minister, my prayer is that the "something" they find is Jesus and the Church He instituted.
Every time I attend a retreat with young people I learn many new things about the Catholic faith, the youth, and the people who work with them. More specifically I came to the realization this weekend of how important adults ARE to jr. high kids. Of course, kids need adults to help them in many ways, but most importantly, kids NEED to establish healthy relationships with mature, Catholic, fun, adults with whom they can share their fears, questions, and joys. This makes for a healthy Catholic later on in life!
There were some great chaperones at the retreat last night. And you could see how much they cared about the youth present. I mean, any adult who attends a retreat with hormone charged jr. high kids, should get a medal! But these adults participated in all the activities (even the goofy ones that I hate!), encouraged discussion with the kids, held up the faith as a way of life, and to top it all...they were funny and fun to be with. I was proud to be with such a nice group of caring individuals. In fact, I was glad that my own daughter connected with some of these people and could lean on them for any "issues" she may have.
Earlier this year, I was telling an older woman how overwhelmed I sometimes feel as a mom of four crying out loud. That I worried that I could not meet all their needs since there were so many of them and only one of me. Being a mom of four grown children, she gave me this sage advice:
As moms, we cannot always fulfill all the needs of our children, but pray that other adults come into our children's lives to fill in the gaps.
Anyone of the adults at this retreat could have filled in the gaps for my daughter...really well. I encourage you all to become a gap filler for a Catholic youth one day. It's the best gift you can give to the future of our society and our church; and ultimately for yourself.