While some parishes and schools are ready and prepared to host socially distant in-person NET retreats, others are not able to do so. With live NET missionaries videoconferencing in, Catholic relational ministry can still occur digitally!
Virtual NET retreats demonstrate the truth of God’s love for us as His children and invite youth to respond to His invitation of a life of purpose, joy, and love as a disciple here on Earth and as a saint forever in Heaven in a unique, online format.
How does it work?
Streaming on an online platform, students can log on to the retreat site by using any web browser connected to WiFi. Each student should have their own device with video and audio capabilities (laptop, tablet, mobile phone, etc). They will be welcomed by 12-14 young adult missionaries. The online platform will allow for breakout rooms to provide live small group discussions; each small group will be led by two NET missionaries.
Every NET retreat includes an extended time for the youth to pray and be prayed with to make a personal response to God’s invitation. NET Ministries’ virtual retreats are designed for students in grades 7-12 and may include up to 50 young people per retreat.
NET virtual retreats include:
- 3-hour live online retreat
- 12-14 trained NET missionaries
- Live retreat leader and live small group leaders
- Small group breakout discussions
- Games – both social and “Gospel-based” interactions
- Live testimony presentations
- Moving drama videos
- Guided prayer time
Our retreat goals are:
- Help young people understand God’s love for them
- Offer faith of the team members as a witness to the youth that faith in God is a desirable, acceptable, and exciting part of their lives
- Encourage young people to grow in their commitment to Jesus Christ and His Church
Youth ministers and youth ministry leaders find that their youth group, Confirmation students, and faith formation students connect well with the team members because their own youthful experience allows them to be heard and understood by teens.
NET Ministries thoroughly screens and trains every NET team member prior to their work with young people. Specifically, NET follows the recommendations of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which was created by the National Catholic Conference of Bishops (now USCCB) in June 2002 and June 2005.
Per these recommendations, all of our team members go through a four-part scrutiny to ensure their suitability for work with youth prior to their conducting any ministry with youth.
First, in the initial screening and selection process, NET requires several references for each potential NET team member, references who can testify to the suitability of a prospective team member. Each reference is originally submitted in writing, and then verified by our staff. This is part of the extensive application process which includes two live interviews and a letter from their Pastor stating they are in good standing with the Catholic Church.
Secondly, NET conducts a criminal background check of each prospect, specialized to accommodate the young age of the NET team members. Our criminal background checks are conducted by a private investigation agency called The McDowell Agency, which is also the agency being utilized by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. This background check includes a search on the National Sex Offenders Database.
Third, NET team members are trained and certified in safe environments through the “VIRTUS–Protecting God’s Children” course by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. NET Team members are also required to successfully complete NET’s training process, which is conducted prior to and during their ministry. During this training, the NET team members receive instruction concerning:
- appropriate standards of conduct for those working with youth;
- inappropriate speech, touch, and relationships with youth;
- requirements for creating a safe environment for all retreatants;
- guidelines for ensuring their own personal safety.
Lastly, all team members acknowledge, by their signature, that they have received, understood, and intend to conduct themselves in accordance with NET Ministries’ Personal Conduct Policies.
Once the NET team members are in active ministry with NET, they continue to receive ongoing training and supervision by NET staff members, which includes weekly contact and monthly onsite visits.
As of February 8, 2021, we will no longer be recording these virtual retreats unless requested to do so. If you have any questions or concerns about the recording a NET Virtual retreat previous to this date, please contact Dan Driver, Retreat Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NET has led youth ministry training for more than 2,500 young adults from around the world. The NET team members and other youth worker guests who attend the intense five week NET training are equipped to make a great impact with youth in years to come.
Through training and constant prayer, the team members are brought to a deeper understanding of their faith and given practical skills to effectively communicate that faith to others. In an environment that includes daily Mass, Reconciliation, individual and corporate prayer, and small group discussion, they also learn retreat skills that enable them to minister to thousands of young people.
NET team members receive training in the following areas: loving God and loving others, the content of the Gospel message, leadership and retreat ministry. They follow a structured and busy schedule that includes daily Mass and prayer, opportunities to meet individually with a priest, staff-led sharing groups, and recreation.
What makes NET Ministries the largest and most successful Catholic youth retreat ministry in the U.S. is the quality training that our 180 missionaries receive.
In mid-August each year, the new young adult team members begin five weeks of personal formation and retreat skills training. Frequent reception of the sacraments is a central part of training. They also learn and practice short dramas, presentations, personal testimonies, music, and small discussion groups.
At the end of training these young adults are placed onto teams. Each year these NET teams combine to proclaim the Gospel to over 90,000 Catholic youth in the United States.
Because they’re close in age to the youth they serve, team members are received by youth in a positive way. Their own youthfulness also allows our missionaries to authentically model what it looks like to be a young person who loves Christ and is successfully living as His disciple.