The 2013 Peer Leadership Training Camp was a success! Thank you to everyone who prayed for and supported us during the past week. I must begin this post by thanking the alumni of the Saint John Neumann Youth Ministry program for their hard work and dedication in preparing this event- Sidney Bowerman, Jason Brown, Adam Handley, and Sarah Pfannes. These four amazing young people planned and facilitated educational sessions, inspired our incoming team with testimonies of their youth group experience, and have left their youth ministry program on strong footing for the coming year! I cannot thank them enough, especially for all of the times they had to patiently explain things to me because-- being the new guy-- I just didn't understand yet. They are awesome and our parish is forever in their debt.Adam and Erin make spaghetti.
Our participants were challenged intellectually, spiritually, and personally in numerous sessions and challenges. Session topics included: Scriptural Foundations for Leadership, Proactive Decision Making, Conflict Resolution, Small Group Facilitation, Prayer Leadership, and more! The group also completed numerous small group challenges-- even successful cooking six meals with various limitations (no sight, no talking, hands behind their backs). The team approached each session and challenge with an open mind and grew visibly as a result of their hard work.
The camp also included various prayer opportunities including Holy Mass, Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Lectio Divina, and a guided meditation. Following the guided meditation (based on the Call of Andrew from St. Matthew's Gospel) one participant told me that he had "never felt closer to God" than he had in prayer that evening! The staff of the DeSales Center also asked that we continue having retreats in their facilities because they enjoyed our young people's participation in the Mass so much. Go Neumann!
There was also a lot of time for laughter during the week. I honestly cannot remember the last time I have laughed so hard or for so long! The joy that God has instilled in this leadership team is as contagious as it is inspiring! There was even some mischief (see below):
Overall I could not have asked for a better Leadership Team or a better Leadership Camp. This group of young people will guide the High School Youth Group during the coming year by focusing their leadership on four components-- Guidance/Healing, Justice/Service, Community Life, and Word/Worship. They will also be key players in the Men's and Women's Ministries, and Faith UNwrapped. Finally, they will represent the young people of the parish on the Parish Council and on numerous other commissions. When I asked them if they were ready to take on this task, the answer was a resounding, "YES!" Please join me in praying for them and supporting them this coming year!