Dear Parish Family,
I write to you with news I am very excited about!
Dynamic youth ministry in our country is currently going through a veritable revolution. Sociologists, psychologists, youth ministers, educators, parents, priests are reporting that our young people are markedly different than previous generations. While it’s true every generation is different than the one before it, professionals are telling us that today’s teens have different needs than their predecessors.
Like anybody, teens want to feel a deep sense of belonging. More than ever before, teens today (generally) form very few positive mentor-like relationships with trusted adults. Much of their formation comes through sterile social media and peer information or misinformation. They have a deep longing for true relationships and the core affirmation and validation that comes through a positive mentor-like relationship with a trusted adult.
As we read in the New Testament, in the lives of the Saints, and recent papal documents, belief in Jesus, being a life-long disciple, doesn’t come from a set of well-articulated intellectual propositions. I am not a Catholic priest today because I read a book. I believe in Jesus because I respected Monsignor Mitchell as a boy and my mother told me God loves me and she would never lie to me.
Youth Minister after Youth Minister is now telling us based on their experience and their work with young people, the classic model which for many years has been marvelously effective, is no longer. Bringing teens to a youth room and feeding them oreos and soda and giving them a presentation on modesty before they engage in a nerf gun fight is not what they’re looking for, nor is it what they need.
What they want, what they need, is to feel as though they belong, are wanted, are loved, are respected, are valued, are cherished. To introduce them to the love of Christ, it is irreplaceable that they be introduced to someone who models Christ to and for them. In short, to become a disciple, they must have a relationship with a disciple.
This happens in families, in friendships, and here’s where it gets really exciting, it happens in parishes. To address this new model of forming young disciples, Saint Peter’s invited a team of NET ministers to live in the parish for 3-5 years. 8 college aged students will be living in the parish one year at a time. Their focus will not be drumming up business for youth nights, but going out into the Geneva community to meet teens where they are - at Starbucks, in their high school, at the Corn Boil, and forming intentional, positive, Christian relationships with them and giving them the skills to go and make disciples on their own. NET ministries is solidly Catholic and completely endorsed by our Bishop and the Archbishop where they’re based, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here’s a link if you’d like to check out their work:
NET ministries conducted interviews and site visits with about 35 parishes across the United States and only chose two parishes where they wanted to send their teams…and we’re one of them! Praise God! They saw in us an active and dynamic parish with a vision and an enthusiasm they thought would be collaborative with their focus and mission - namely, Evangelization. That’s a great testimony to all of you for the great place you make this parish to be, and especially to our wonderful and dedicated staff that sacrifice so much and work so hard to carry out God’s Will in thousands of ways each day!
NET ministers will live in our parish. They’ll be at our Masses, in our school, in our community. They’ll be with us for the year. That also means they need housing. The model for NET ministries is that they live with families for two weeks at a time. They’re happy to stay with anyone willing to have them. They are trained to be very low maintenance and add a positive, life-giving, Catholic presence to homes. Net ministers are fully vetted, that is to say, they’ve undergone extensive training and background checks, they’ve been specifically trained to work with young people and have completed all the necessary training for maintaining a safe environment for youth and vulnerable persons. If you are interested in housing the NET ministers for two-three weeks please contact Kathy Soeder in our parish office at 630.232.0124 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I also invite you to join me in prayer. This is an amazing opportunity to engage our young people and form young disciples. Satan will not want this to succeed. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will bless, baptize, and anoint this great moment of opportunity and guide our efforts every step of the way!
Thanks again for all your continued support, energy, and enthusiasm in our wonderful parish! God bless you and God protect your families!
May Mary, the Queen of the Family, pray for you and obtain for you graces of truth and freedom!