Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 1, 2003
Life Teen lights up parish
By BILL GLEN
"Jennifer's more open about discussing things."
- Marie Ryski
"I feel amazingly so much closer to God. I came to Life Teen's core team to help other people feel the same way."
Kristen is much more comfortable with herself, especially in public speaking. "Before this, I looked at religion as just something within me. . . . With this program, I feel perfectly happy that I could be a youth minister myself."
Her father agrees. "Kristen is a busy girl. Since joining the program, I've certainly noticed she is a lot more committed to her faith. She takes her responsibilities with Life Teen very seriously."
Life Teen was started in 1985 by Msgr. Dale Fushek in Mesa, Ariz. Fushek saw a special need to bring teens closer to Jesus, especially to make the Eucharist more meaningful to them. The program is centred around the Mass and makes the teens' faith come alive through Life Nights, Bible studies, retreats, outreach, and various social and sports activities.
Landry says some youth are bringing their parents back to church. "That is really something to see. Kids are excited to come."
Sometimes the teens perform a skit as part of the Mass to help entice other teens to come over to the parish hall for Life Night following the service.
About 120 high school students have taken part in the Life Teen ministry over the year, with 25 to 40 who consistently stay for Life Night, Landry said.
Jennifer Ryski, 13, found a new desire to attend church since Life Teen began, says her mother Marie Ryski.
Her daughter has been drawn by the music, but also by the comfort of being involved in a young group that is fond of expressing its Catholicity.
"Jennifer's more open about discussing things," said Ryski. "She's much more open to the faith. And so is her sister (Carlee, 10). We always came to church before, but now they choose to come. That's the difference.
Landry explained: "The parish has a really good history of youth involvement and I think this has built upon it. The big thing about the Life Teen model is that it's Eucharist centred. A lot of our young people are coming to more of an understanding of what it's all about."
Garbed in blue and black striped jerseys as vibrant as their smiles, some 30 energetic teens greeted parishioners, handed out offertory baskets and played heavenly music Nov. 23 on a night Archbishop Thomas Collins celebrated the feast of Christ the King.
Two other 18-year-old core team members agree that since joining the ministry they have become witness to a greater purpose.
"I love it," said Erin Holtslag. "The retreats are awesome. Even though we're helping the teens go deeper into their faith, it's also a great chance to help ourselves.
"Wherever I am, whether the teens are watching me or not, I always know that God is watching me."
Gregory Schiller also became a core member in the fall, helping out wherever he can. "I'd seen Mike around a lot. I was coming to daily Mass so he asked me to join."
Schiller has been busy singing with the group, greeting people and has tried to become friends with as many of the teens as he can.
"I love to be able to serve. It's been a lot of fun and at the same time, really rewarding to help others."
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