Why do we do what we do?
Not too long ago the Gallup Group did a poll on what teens hungered for spiritually. The top five spiritual things that Christian teens said they desired most: 1) A hunger for meaningful relationships 2) A hunger to know that life has purpose 3) A hunger for someone to listen to them 4) A hunger to be connected to what is Sacred 5) A hunger for life to be fairer.
What is it we conceive?
St. Thomas the Apostle’s Life Teen is designed with the intent to lead teens closer to Christ. So, our Sunday evenings kick off with the Eucharistic Liturgy Service. This is followed by Life Nights – a 1 ½ hour experience focused on faith development.
St Thomas the Apostle has a Core Team of about fifteen adults. They work very hard at moral character-building and faith formation of your teenager because of this awkward, unstable, tempting, and negative climate we live in. The Core is focused on helping to inspire the teens to grow up and be confident leaders, while they grow in faith. We want to help to teach and model the Christian life to your child. Our Core Team is packed with role models and people who truly care about your teen. It is a given to us that we all want our teens to grow in the faith, to be courageous in it, to become humble leaders who encourage, embrace and live a Christian-filled life. The nucleus of the family is where this all begins. We are working very hard to support family life.
What do we need to do?
We always work diligently at making the message of Jesus relevant. We are striving to help your teen to hear the fuller truth of the gospel and let the Truth impact their life. We explore the faith in relevant ways. We hope to lead each teen to where they personally experience God’s love in their life, because this is how they will ultimately own their faith. Our Sunday evenings are absolutely eventful. Life Night is not a program! It is a commitment to not ignore our teens and recognize they have needs. It is a serious undertaking to provide faith-revealing experiences.
How do we try and bring faith formation to life?
We provide a means to draw them into an interactive learning experience. We offer an interactive atmosphere, where the teens can grow in their understanding of God’s relevance in their life. It is God’s love that transforms the teens’ lives and it is God’s love that impacts their decisions. God’s love is increasingly necessary as they begin to make the real choices of life. God’s love helps them in their relationships. God’s love will help them in their future marriages and in the families they will raise some day.
What to expect at a typical Life Night?
As you know by now, two of the four Sunday evenings in a month are catechetical. We break open a particular teaching of the Church. One of the evenings deals with specific “real world issues” that teens deal with (i.e. drinking, gossip, chastity, bullying, clicks, suicide, healthy friendships, depression, social networking, etc.). These nights help teens see how their Christian faith is relevant to every aspect of their lives. And one Life Night per month is a social night, where we build Christian community and friendships (a party with purpose – controlled chaos if you will). In the midst of these social nights a message of God’s love is shared and realized.
What is the newest direction to be added for 2014/2015?
A team is being assembled to address the Domestic Church – The Family!
We will be developing strategies to develop stronger Catholic Families in our Parish. There are four theological truths we will be keeping on the radar as we proceed: * Family Life is Sacred * Family Activity is Holy * Family Has a Unique Ministry * Family is a Believing and Evangelizing Community. We will begin to offer ways to coach parents and engage them in directly forming their children spiritually. Our goal is to get parents to reclaim their responsibility to pass on the faith. The bottom line is we will be equipping, supporting and encouraging families to own their Catholic Faith.
- Confirmation - A special nine month period of time of spiritual formation and discernment, culminating with the Sacrament of Confirmation in spring.
- Ignite – A place to go deeper in faith, be mentored in leadership, be spiritually fed, and establish meaningful friendships and share fellowship.
- More Than Words - A social justice and community service group, where teens grow together, as women and men for others through a process of action and reflection. A different social justice issue is explored every month, leading up to a service day relating to that social justice issue.
- Additions Teen Service Opportunities
- March for Life – March alongside thousands in prayerful witness to the sanctity of life.
- Tree of Life --- Support the efforts of Reachout (assist in supporting the needs of pregnant woman and babies in crisis).
- Fall Retreat – Bonds Teens in Christ – takes place on Mount Lemmon for 3 days.
- Ignite Winter Retreat – A deeper place retreat for those Confirmed – takes place at Triangle Y Camp for 3 days
- Spring Retreat – A Life Changing Spiritual Retreat for Teens – takes place at Triangle Y Camp for 3 days.
- Steubenville West – A powerful Christian Summer Youth Conference – Thousands of teens come from around the country to the UofA and hear some of the very best known Christian speakers and musicians, who provide inspiration and hope. The Conference is centered on Jesus, and includes focused talks on virtue, holiness, and spirituality.
- LEAD – This is a dynamic Catholic leadership opportunity for teens that are ready to step up to the next level in leadership and evangelization. STAP will be sending a minimum of four teens this year.
- Life Teen Leadership Conference – LTLC is a very unique opportunity in leadership training. Four to six teens and two CORE members will be sent to Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas during the summer. It is a life changing week.
- Life Teen Tailgate – We set up a tent at several high schools during football season, becoming a presence to meet teens in their environment.
- Empower Plus – St Thomas the Apostle hosts a one day training in the very best practices in youth ministry for Arizona youth ministers.
- CYM Training Convention – St Thomas the Apostle sends Core Team Members out of town for three days to receive practical and comprehensive training in spiritual renewal.
- Center for Ministry Development Certification Classes – Core Team Members attend a National Youth Ministries Leadership Studies Program – eight weekends over two years.
- Diocese of Tucson Annual Conference – Core Team Members attend a theme based conference.
- CORE Team Retreat – At the beginning of the fall semester the CORE team attends a 3 day spiritual retreat at Picture Rocks led by recognized spiritual leaders in the Church. The idea being you can’t give what you don’t have.
- World Youth Day – July 2016 – Krakow, Poland – WYD is the greatest concentration of young people in the world – over one million people will participate in this extremely meaningful pilgrimage. St Thomas underwrites a portion of this expense.
- Veritas – Young adult group who meet weekly to explore worship, discipleship, apologetics, social justice, faith in college, prayer, history of the Church and more.
- Funding and Scholarships– St Thomas the Apostle Life Teen has a policy that no teen should miss an opportunity to encounter God and grow in relation with Him. In addition we do not charge program fee for Life Teen! The costs for what we offer are covered by the parish and what we are able to raise.
- O’Leary Hall High Tech Advancements – Multi screen projection, travel rear projection screen, electrical wiring to rear of hall and software.
- STAP Web Design & Support – Significant social media enhancement to web page for the multi youth groups. To be able to communicate better to parents and teens.
What can you do?
The reality is this – the only way we will really make a difference in the life of teens is with support. If our Life Teen experience is to become more and more meaningful to teens and families, it won’t be because of any one of us. It will take all of our conscious prayers, efforts and resources. From the time of Christ himself, the reality is faith always comes alive through experiences and is then revealed in actions. The price for this is not just covered by the gift of time and talent!
To this point, I think you already know that St. Thomas the Apostle is extremely supportive and generous to faithful faith formation of teens. We need to be able to continue to extend the invitation for all to come without any sense of burden.
Here is where your support is needed to make Life Teen work even better. In whatever way you can step up and assist, please do so. If you feel you can contribute in any way, please do so (there is much more we can add to their Life Teen Experience with additional resources).
If you can commit yourself to prayers on behalf of the Life Teen Experience – thank you. What I hope for all of us is that we strive to reveal love in all the ways that we can. This is how being a Christian makes a difference in this world. This is how we become a better community. And please, please, please; never stop praying for your families, family life in St Thomas the Apostle, in this country, and in this world. Pray for spiritual health of our teens and for their ever-growing relationship with Jesus to grow. Please know that our Core Team includes your teens and you in our prayers too! I would also ask that in a special way you pray for a ministry we are discerning to undertake: Strong Catholic Families. We are in the exploratory stage and will be sharing more with you in the coming months.
St. Thomas the Apostle Life Teen 2014/2015 Vision
1) Remain faithful to God
2) Respond to God’s call and his people
3) Reveal love
St Thomas the Apostle’s youth ministry exists to make Jesus more available, in order that teens, families, and the entire parish community can be drawn more into relationship with him.
Big 2013 Goal:
By May 2015 families are visibly engaged in a lively encounter with Christ in the Eucharist and the Word and are responding in moving ways.
St. Thomas the Apostle Life Teen Prayer
Loving God, You sent your Son, Jesus, into this world to be an example to us, that we might be transformed into the image of his love. This love is not something we generate ourselves rather, it comes to us through the Holy Spirit who has been given us.
We entrust our Youth Ministry work, for, with and by young people to Saint John Paul the Great. We pray that through his intercession we may find God, find ourselves and find our place in the life and mission of our Church. With God’s grace may we believe in Jesus, accept what he says and follow his Gospel message, allowing Christ’s love to conquer us! In spite of all the challenges that lie ahead, may God’s love in Jesus define us!