Friday, May 29, 2009

Hello Means How About A Hug

Here's a fascinating article from the New York Times about how teens are hugging as a wordless greeting.

A great line from it: "Witnessing this interaction always makes me feel like I am a tourist in a country where I do not know the customs and cannot speak the language.”


Today I listened. I know, sounds like I brought home a report card from kindergarten with a little gold star next to "listened well." However, as others have suggested, kindergarten teaches us what we really need to know about life. There's so much noise around us, literal and figuratively, that listening becomes difficult. Jesus listened to those that came to him. He even listened to those that came to attack him. So isn't this one of those things where we can't really deny the fact that we're called to be imitators of him?

Here's my day - as part of our writing the next 5 year pastoral plan for our parish, each ministry is going out to other churches (of various denominations) to look at their ministries and talk with the relevant staff. Today I met with a wonderful youth pastor from a vibrant Presbyterian community. As a veteran youth minister of over 30 years, it was wonderful hearing his words of wisdom, honesty, and very powerful words of where they are still struggling and growing. Obviously we covered the topics and issues related to the pastoral planning process. However, it was the give and take of the conversation that I found refreshing - hearing his narrative on what he views as indispensable to the youth ministry, the ideas on ministering to the volunteers, the unique perspective on faith and ministry that he brought to the table that all made me stretch my understanding and get me thinking and reflecting.

I'm curious to speak with the others who attended this meeting - a pastoral council member and two young adult leaders active in the youth ministry and young adult ministry.

This has made me decide to add something to my plate. I try to daily read things that will help my work in ministry. Magazines, online resources, books, and blogs are all part of that daily routine. Some are directly related while others are a bit more tangential. However, they all provide ideas and formation to help me grow as my calling to a minister. Now, I want to add that every month or two I'll call up another youth minister in the area, or one on the way to wherever I might be traveling (driving to my folks' place a couple states away is a great opportunity), to spend an hour or two taking them for coffee and chatting about ministry. Yes, our region's Catholic youth ministers get together monthly, but I would like to stretch myself further. We shall see how this all plays out now.

I'd like to sign off by challenging you, whether you are a minister or someone who got lost in the blogosphere and wandered across this post, to really listen. Wisdom is found all around you. Take the time to stop, put aside all the distractions, and really listen to what is being said.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Proud CYM

I am a proud CYM right now.  Not that I had anything at all to do with this, but one of the kids in my youth group will be an animator at NCYC this fall.

Now we just need to get the logistics worked out to get him there for the weekend in July, a chaperone for it (parents can't be there), and the travel expenses....oh, and I thought tomorrow would be a ho-hum day.  Silly, silly me.

Pope & Web 2.0

The Pope has now more fully entered Web 2.0.

With the launch of, there is a much more cohesive and useful foray into the tangle of young people and their web use.

I've only just started to play with it a bit, but there's good stuff on the site already and it obviously recognizes the major items in young people's use of the internet - iPhone, iTouch, Facebook, wiki, etc.

The WikiCath is a nice touch. Some Italian still shows up for the buttons to turn pages and such, though they are fairly intuitive so it doesn't make a huge difference. I am sure some of these hiccups will be repaired.

All in all, after a couple of minutes of playing with it, I like it. Can't wait to see what else they do with it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On the Road Again

Thankfully it isn't Timbuktu or such, but I am on the road again tomorrow for a presentation at another parish. I've been asked to present to their Education Commission on who young adults are and what is young adult ministry.

Besides for the fact that these presentations allow me to play with the fun presentation software on my Mac, I truly love these opportunities to go to other places and talk with them about young adult ministry. I hear stories from the young adults in attendance about their journeys of life and faith. I hear the struggles of the parish as they face financial issues, consensus about priorities, and a bit of fear or confusion about they mysterious and slightly amorphous group: young adults. I know I don't have all the answers so I go in with the statistics, the documents, and the lived experiences of my parish and what I am aware of in our diocese. Then I try to start a dialogue that the group can continue on their own.

That dialogue is the crucial part. They need to look at all the general items and then look at the specifics of their parish and community. They need to look at their resources, their priorities, their dreams and make the decisions. I just try to help give them the tools to start that journey.

What is encouraging is that this Education Commission had several members that spoke up about wanting to look at issues beyond just the elementary school at the parish - they want to look at the issues relating to youth, young adult, and 'regular' adult faith education in their parish. This is fabulous!

So I will go in, wearing my grown-up clothes (no retreat T-shirts for me tomorrow) and shoes I will hopefully not trip in (still quite clumsy), with my Mac and enthusiasm in tow. I will leave with a few less handouts and with a heart full of prayers for their ministry.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Near and Far

After two treks to the Diocesan offices (75+ min drive each way) for meetings, I am grateful that tomorrow's meeting was unexpectedly moved to my parish.  Even if I'm now gathering treats and tossing the agenda & prayer together.  Actually, I'm quite excited.  For those that come, we're going to look at peace and social justice issues.  Most of us do service projects, service trips, and some sort of programming of the topic during our 'normal' youth groups.  I'd like to hear what the other youth groups are up to, how they approach the topics, and what resources are out there.

Plus, I'm getting those 8th grade girls literally bounding into my office asking after World Youth Day.  Truly no rest for the weary.  

Not that I would have it any other way.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yup, I think this could be the most wonderful time of the year. The school year activities are wrapping up, or at least planned and packaged for delivery. The major summer activities are in the administrative phase of planning, leadership organization, paperwork gathering. The stomach turning worry over those major summer events is still at least a month off so I'm not chowing down on Tums. I also am trying to take half an hour each day to organize my desk and files. Once June hits, I'll be swamped.

This summer is going to prove quite interesting.
  • We'll start the WYD 2011 planning process (already have quotes from several agencies).
  • We've got the trip to Honduras with International Samaritan ministries.
  • We need to plan the September - November events prior to August (when I'm in Honduras).
  • There is a lock-in July 11-12 which will focus on social justice issues and help prep those traveling on our service trip. It is also a joint retreat with the other local parishes.
  • I'm heading to the north woods with a small, okay 15, flock of girlfriends. Since several are employed in or volunteer for the Church, this should be interesting. Particularly when we descend on the small Church up there for Mass
  • Our young adult group challenged the youth group to see who could gather more items for us to take to Honduras (clothing, school supplies, books, toothpaste, etc). At stake is a homemade meal made by the loosing ministry for the winning ministry.
  • In a moment of weakness I agreed to a water fight night at the youth group. Please pray for me.
Those are the highlights. Toss in some all day meetings for staff, the all day training for the Protecting God's Children in ministry course, planning meetings for activities, too. Should be busy.

Stay tuned to see if my sanity stays in place this summer...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Catholic Youth Bible and My Family

I am pulling the Beatitudes from Luke for tonight's youth group. In the Catholic Youth Bible, on the page opposite, is an article entitled "The Reunion Dinner." It tells of the tradition I am already familiar with regarding the Chinese New Year - family gathers from around the world to celebrate a meal together. They are relating this to Luke 7.1-10.

However, as I plug away here I am thinking of my brother and the rest of my family. One of the things I love about the Catholic Mass is that I know my parents in another state, my brother in another country, and I all celebrate the same Mass. We are spread through several time zones, in a war zone, in suburbia, yet we are bound by this common experience.

It gives me great comfort and no little strength. It is also something I experience when I travel alone or with the ministries. The Masses for World Youth Day that are in a multitude of languages. The Mass in our twin parish in New Orleans where the people gather despite the slow recovery from Katrina. The simultaneous sense that something is different, yet fundamentally the same. This is a gift. I always hope to help the youth and young adults to see it as such, too.