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Ministry is a challenge. A beautiful and sanctifying challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.

This fact is emphasized, and may even be caused in part by the fact that instead of peddling widgets or reaching deadlines, we work for and serve people. Messy, sticky, often unpredictable human persons who are as unique and individualized as the snowflakes that covered my home and parish all winter long. We can state trends and patterns about teens in the most general and terms possible, but unlike a chair or a car that is an exact clone of the one made before, the next teen to walk through your door is completely different than the one that just walked out.

For many of us who work in youth ministry, Pope John Paul II was a shepherd and father like none other. His love and affection for young people led thousands to the faith. His devotion to the Eucharist and Mary showed us how to live in God’s love. His courage to stand for justice brought […]

Think about all the obstacles we go through in our day-to-day ministry. We live in a world of late sign-ups, last minute changes, double bookings, paper jams, and did I forget to say #TechnologyProblems? Moreover, we venture into the teenage jungle of low self-esteem, depression, and even suicide. There’s an endless amount of things that can go wrong in our ministry to teens and the easiest thing we can do is give up. However, if we take the call of Jesus seriously, we must be immersed in the messiness of life.

I got together with an old friend a few months ago. Toney is a friend I met long ago at the Steubenville West conference, and the last number of years of Toney’s life have truly inspired me. While we were talking I was moved to share his story with you; He has given me permission […]

The days of Lent are quickly coming to an end, what has this Liturgical Season been like for you? Have you taken time to truly enter into your Lenten fasting and spiritual growth? Or has it just been another blur of a month in the midst of all your busy parish programming?

I knew that I needed God, but had no earthly idea of where to go from there. I didn’t want a repeat of my previous experience with religion; I wanted to know a loving God, not one who smites people with lightning bolts for asking questions.

I decided to try a Catholic Church since the kindest and most loving person I have ever met told me that he had learned to love from the Catholic Church. As soon as I walked into the church I felt God’s presence all around me like a warm embrace. At that moment I knew that I was home.

That’s the story of my life. God proves His love for me, and by the next scene, I’m wondering who He is. Yet somehow my forgetfulness doesn’t deter Him, and He sets out again each day to win my heart.

Often in youth ministry, it feels like we’re trying to come up with catchy semester themes and culturally relevant tie-ins to repackage the same simple message. Our retreats and events keep revolving around the counter-cultural reality that God is a loving Father who wants to provide for us, His children.

A couple of years ago, I sat in my office and watched a video that Life Teen posted of the newest Life Support box being packaged. I sat, awestruck, at the great things that were going to be coming my way. I got excited at all of the new Life Nights and retreat sessions I could plan with these incredible materials… and then I waited.

And waited.

My entire mission team in Houston made a commitment to each other to reach out to the poor and the homeless every chance we get. We carry bottles of water, granola bars, and blankets in our car for anyone who may be in need. But more than that, we commit to asking the homeless their names and how we can specifically pray for them.

And this year, the poor and homeless have blessed me.

To say the least, I was ecstatic. The Core Team was shocked and the kids beyond excited! Stuff like this just doesn’t happen every day.

The visit itself was grand. The youth decorated hand-made posters welcoming him and escorted him to our gymnasium where he was greeted with applause. Our Bishop spent an entire hour answering every last question these young people had. He joked with them, shared his favorite sport (which is college football), how he discerned the vocation of Holy Orders, and his first meeting with Pope Francis.

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