I am getting so excited about the end of the faith development year and all that we’ve accomplished! What we started with at the beginning of the year was a challenge of unknown new faces and personalities…some happy to be in TYM others not so enthusiastic. Teens who, despite their honest love of God, needed some honest answers of why they should believe, not only the facts of what they should believe. Being a catechist is not for the weak of heart, it’s a job for those WITH heart. Specifically a heart for teens and their plight!
Some of us were new at the TYM scene and scared to death (myself included) while others were seasoned professionals who sailed through the year. We all struggled with ways to effectively “get through” to the kids, lost some hair, vowed we would never come back, and were tempted to stick a movie in the VCR and let someone else teach the kids. But God always called us back, gently…and reminded us that we are making a difference.
At the end of the year, I think it’s important to take inventory of what we accomplished and not let any tough moments monopolize our thoughts. The truth is that we ended up with a hopeful group of 9th graders who continue to mature and move closer toward Confirmation. We have 83 primed 10th graders who have a healthy grasp of what it is to be a faith-filled Catholic. They are ready to be sealed in the Holy Spirit by the Bishop in a couple of weeks! We have numerous Seniors in the WIRED group who will be graduating and experiencing a new life filled with possibility (My daughter is one of them-Lord help me!) as well as 8 committed Latino youth preparing to receive their first Holy Communion and Confirmation at STM.
Our kids have attended retreats, went on mission, discussed tough issues, served in various capacities, played and laughed with their peers, were offered words of encouragement, given new perspectives from guest speakers, did not shy away from asking, and asking (and asking) the tough questions (which we answered) and were given opportunities to confess and pray. How many of you were given so much in your youth program when you were a teen?
But what makes a youth program great is not necessarily the size of the program, quality of the programming or craziness of its leaders…it’s the authenticity of its leaders, the lives that we lead and the honesty with which we teach. It’s the confidence in knowing that what is true, good and sacred resides in the Catholic Church. We couldn’t teach it, unless we believed it. And that, my friends, is the greatest gift we’ve given our youth…BELIEF!
So in the last few weeks before we must say goodbye for the summer, I want to say THANK YOU, for believing…in God, His son, our youth, in yourselves and in me. We will walk away from this year different people and so will the teens. And it does not get any better in a youth program than that….