The First Half
As we start to make our way toward the end of the first half of the year, it seems appropriate that we take this time to reflect on the ways God has been blessing us in our ministry. One of the team’s favorite things we get to do is NETid; a NET event that takes place once a month where we get to travel to Cincinnati, walk with one or two high school students, and aide them in growing their leadership skills. All these young people are so inspiring, the way they are making an active choice to pursue their faiths, and their communities is moving.
Another team favorite is St. Rita’s school for the Deaf, also located in Cincinnati. St. Rita’s is a school for kids with different special needs, most of the students there are deaf, either completely or partly. This means we are getting the opportunity to learn ASL! It has been such an incredible way to connect with these youth, and let them teach us, and welcome us into their world. The joy these kids posses’ is contagious, and the time we get to spend with them is so full of love. I know I can speak for the whole team when I say that St. Rita’s, the students and what we have learned there will stay with us for a long time to come.
NET Catalyst nights is a great form of ministry and different from the “one and done” everyday retreats we typically do, we actually get to go back to the church or school once a month! This is so unique and such a blessing, we really get to form a relationship with the youth at these events, and continue to walk with them throughout the year. So far we have done three of these catalyst events, and each one is vastly different in both the number of retreatants, and the atmosphere that surrounds the night. This being said, the one constant is the fact that God is so very present in each moment of ministry. Keep this young people in your prayers, that they may continue to seek the Lord in their lives, and be overwhelmed by His perfect love.
This year has gifted us with the chance to be apart of Awake Youth Rallies. These are not a super frequent occurrence, so far we have done two. That being said, they are so much fun, and an amazing privilege to bear witness to. The rallies are made up of around two hundred to four hundred youth between sixth and twelfth grade, praising God and ecstatically grasping an opportunity to learn more about their faith. These events are really special, because we as a NET team get to witness it in a more “behind the scenes” kind of way. We sometimes help lead small groups if it’s needed, although for the most part we perform dramas and AMEs (after meal entertainment). Regardless of what we are doing at the rallies, it is always a beautiful moment that proclaims the truth that the future of the Catholic Church is radiant.
(Glory) Story Time
After every retreat we do “ARP” which means After Retreat Prayer. If it is possible we include the church/school staff who have brought us in, and we take a few minutes to praise and thank God for the retreat and various aspects of the retreat. Time and time again, small groups that we’ve had are mentioned and our gratitude for them is expressed boldly. Some retreats are harder, in the sense that it’s more emotionally exhausting than others, but I’ve found the more physically drained I feel, the more fulfilled I feel. There was one small group in particular that stands out in my mind, it was at a middle school and my small group was co-ed sixth graders, and I was overwhelmed. I had never led a co-ed group and I didn’t know what to expect. I was blown away, the way they loved one another and so willingly offered their friendship to each other filled my heart in a way I didn’t know was possible. This is only one example of the countless stories of how the youth we encounter are seeking authentic relationships and yearning for something more than the world is offering them.
I have been so blessed over these last three months to grow in community and fellowship with this team. In a lifestyle that is so nomadic, any hint of consistency is so appreciated. The most prominent consistency is the way this team so generously pours out their hearts for one another. As this half comes to a close, there are a lot of mixed emotions. We are so welcoming of a break but I know for myself, I am going to miss this family. We want to wish you all a joyous Christmas season, full of laughter and love.
Thank you for your continued prayers, and be assured of ours for you.
Peace and God bless,