Although public schools have just begun their summer recess and the Religious Education Year at Christ the Redeemer has also come to a close, plans for youth ministry next year are under way. Sunday night catechists, who meet with high school youth on Sundays during the year, met recently to discuss some upcoming changes to the program and to plans for the upcoming year.
Part of this transition was set in motion when Ron Bonica, a long-time catechist on Sunday nights with high school youth decided it was time to step down. Ron began his work almost a decade ago with youth in a mixed group of students grades 10-12 on Sundays. The original idea was a bible study course that alternated between Old Testament and New Testament. It was pitched as “10 bible stories in the Old/New Testament that you should probably know before graduating high school.” Over the years, these relaxed Youth Meetings added donuts or pizza along with frank, yet faith-filled discussions on teen life issues like test-taking anxiety, applying to colleges, discussing future goals and priorities. Time was also spent addressing “Things you think you should believe as a Catholic that aren’t necessarily true.” Some favorites: “Yes Catholics are Christian.” “No, we are not biblical fundamentalists.” “Yes, you can marry someone who is not Catholic.” “No, you won’t go to hell.”
This basic approach to meet teen youth where they are will remain as new parish adults, including husband and wife Bill and Karen Wallace, take on this age group on Sunday nights. Bill and Karen worked previously on Monday nights with Junior High students. They also assisted the parish with the implementation of Called to Protect, the diocesan required teen safety program that began two years ago.
Ed Myers and Courtney VanNuys have been working with Grade 9 youth on Sunday nights for almost as long as Ron. The two use the Sadlier text We Live Our Faith As Members of the Church (Vol II), a Church History course, as the organizing backbone for the RE Year. The two add their own personal talents to this. Courtney uses her background in architecture to enhance an appreciation for church design and religious art. Ed, who was originally raised Protestant, brings this background to Church History to point out how the Post-Vatican II Church has attempted to reconcile and address the major issues brought up by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation movements.
Bill, Karen, Ed, and Courtney attended an initial meeting at Christ the Redeemer to go over some of the immediate changes since Ron’s announcement. They also discussed some future activities. Previous years have asked for holding a Movie Night and plans are underway to do this in the Fall. Holding a Game Night was also discussed. Other activities such as a final Video Project and an outside Class Trip to Mount St. Mary’s or to the Basilica in DC were also discussed. These last two have formed an annual staple for Sunday Night Youth along with the help they give LINK, a food assistance non-profit, during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Season.
DC United is holding a Faith Night in July 20th. It’s not clear whether this teen Youth event would have a following with this parish. But it too was discussed as a possibility to try to reach out to more youth in the parish, especially those who are already Confirmed and no longer participate in formal Religious Education. In any case, this is yet another example of how Christ the Redeemer continues to promote and plan for its Youth. The bottom line is if more or different Youth Activities and Events are needed, Christ the Redeemer will need more committed adults to help and more youth to become more active. The first thing they should do is join the Sunday Youth Ministry Team.
Call 703-430-0811 for more information or to join the Youth Ministry Team.