On “Youth Ministry”

Amy Welborn has a great post on Youth Ministry in which I agree with much of her sentiments.

While I am an expert in young adult (20s and 30s) ministry…I think that I’ve seen some good and badly executed youth ministry in the church and then I get to serve them as their young adult minister and need to re-appropriate some of their misgivings.

Some things that I’ve noted:

One thing that the post raises is the marked difference between milennial (born after 1980) culture and GenX (1964ish-1979ish) culture.

GenXers, who had a serious suspicion of institutions often DID come into the church (and still do) through service or community activities…or simply because there was a more vibrant and emotional type of liturgy and a sense of relevance in the preaching (e.g. Father talked about matters that were connected to things in their everyday life–and not a theological treatise or a diatribe against modern society).

The Milennials however are markedly different. Why? Their longing is not for community but rather for security. The big events in their lives are Columbine, 9-11, and recently the natural disasters of Katrina and the Tsunami. For immigrants the experience of crossing the boarder may also be significant.

Therefore, they will react in kind to stronger messages that “make sense” of moral decisions and give them a sense that the time spent in church is not merely “well-spent” but a time that is unlike any other time.

They long to be “moved to awe”–why? Because nothing ever shocks them. And everything is at the touch of a button for them–so they are powerful as well.

The problem that exists is that young people often expect God to work instantaneously…and when that doesn’t happen–they are loathe to continue with prayer or ritual. They simply move on to the next “church store.”

This is also why the eucharist is so key for this age. We have what nobody else has–the bread of life! The good news is that we don’t turn it into another commodity for them…but we give them as many experiences as possible with Jesus in the Eucharist. But they need at least some simple Catechesis on the Eucharist or it falls into being “just another magic trick.” When catechesis of the eucharist is done well–the result is indeed profound.

What youth need more than anything (and some earlier posts reference this) are mentors. How many youth ministers really prioritize their time with the members of their youth ministry so that each gets some individual attention instead of just programmatic busy work? How many of them make sure that they understand the essentials of the faith? How many know what’s really going on in their lives?

The challenge for us as ministers is simply that. To bring Christ’s mentorship to the world…so that when these youths begin to form their own narratives about “the way the world works” the church will be at the center…

Because we have been active in the center of their lives and placed Christ there to be with them.

Much peace…great post, Amy.

Old Friends

I had drinks with some old radio friends: Chris Thompson who continues to work at WOR Radio, is a womderful guy who made my time at WOR bareable. We worked closely together on the Food Talk program before he got kicked upstairs and I took his producing gig. Loads of fun.

Becky Bennett who now works for Buckley Broadcasting…the parent company of WOR, and is basically a personal assistant to the head honchos. Becky’s just a fun person to be around–a real kick in the pants. She simply tells it like it is. I hope soon she makes some guy an incredibly happy man.

Heather Cohen was my beautiful and talented co-producer and cubemate. She now is the bigwig at a new radio network for women called Greenstone Media. What a lovely woman she has always been and it’s good to see that she hasn’t changed one bit–with the exception of her being very skinny now (flattery will get you everywhere). Her hubby, Michael, is a lucky man indeed.

Paul Cavalconte is now hosting a jazz show on Sirius Satellite Radio–so I hope to see him around the shop. Nice guy, quirky, but funny. And is always thinking of others and tries to be helpful.

Larry Fonseca is someone who I never worked with but was the sports director at WFUV a few years before I took that same job at Fordham. We’ve been shadowing each other as he worked at both WFAN and WOR not long after I was at both places. I expect him to work at either Sirius or here with the Paulists at some point in the near future if tradition continues to follow form.

In all, a great night out with the old friends.

My mom’s sister

My Aunt Sis died on Sunday evening. Please pray for her–Cecilia Ryan and for her children.

In general, my extended family and I are not terribly close. This wake on Thursday is probably the first time I’ll see many of them in about a decade. We were once a close family but in recent years have drifted. When my mother’s sister Rita died, the family began drifting apart. I’m not sure what caused this drift but it began a downward spiral that never really healed.

My mother is now 78 years old (dad too!) and has not been in great health for over 25 years (since I was about 8-9). She’s been close to death herself on more than one occasion. Unbelievably, she is now the oldest member of her family. She outlived all of her sisters and her youngest brother is the only other sibling left of 9 children.

My mother and her sister were close. They talked nearly every day although she moved to Missouri recently with her daughter’s family. She just talked to her the other night and got the chance to say goodbye. I remember a huge fight they once had which ended with them not speaking for about 2 years. I asked my mom what they had been fighting about and she couldn’t remember. So she figured if she couldn’t remember what the issue was, then they should be speaking. SO she called her and they began to get close once again.

The Irish sure know how to hold a grudge, don’t they?

My aunt was nice to me and a good woman. She had two children and a slew of grandchildren. I served as a altar boy in her husband’s funeral nearly 25 years ago…so she lived a good deal of her life as a widow. She worked for the phone company for ages and was happy to retire.

Please keep her in your prayers.


Prayers for Aunt Sis and more

I was just informed that my mother’s sister, Cecilia Ryan (Aunt Sis)is close to death. Please keep her and her daughter and grandchildren in your prayers.

Also a directee that I’ve been corresponding with, has been diagnosed with brain cancer…this may explain the host of mental problems she’s been having…but it also means she has about a 30% chance to live. She’s had suicidal tendencies, so let’s pray that she may not be overwhelmed in the coming days.

Let us pray for healing of both body and mind…may those who are destined to leave this world be given a peaceful death and rest in the arms of our loving God. Amen.

Rehearsal for BustedHalo Show

So we did a “rehearsal show” the other day for the Catholic Channel. The break down of our show as opposed to the podcast is as follows:

Fr. Dave is basically the ringmaster…the main voice and host of the show.

Natalia Imperatori-Lee is the co-host and brings the estrogen to the show.

I’m sort of a hybrid. I’ll be doing “resource updates” once or maybe twice per hour and doing features like “view from the pew.” Otherwise I’ll be screening your phone calls for the show and helping our producer get guests.

Funny thing, isn’t this the job I left radio for ministry for? And yet…here I am back producing shows with a bonus on-air role.

In honesty, I’m a bit jealous of not being on the air all the time. But I also value the aspect of having a woman being on the air. It’s something that is needed in our church and Natalia is funny and bright and can hold her own with Fr. Dave…and I helped find and select her…so I’m happy the show’s in good hands.

When we reviewed the show with the Archdiocese’s Director of Communications he generally liked it. He pointed out my update as something he thought was really well done…so I took some pride in that. He liked my energy and the good information.

As usual, I knew my role and performed it well…so most likely I’ll be stuck in that role forever now. Not sure if that’s good or bad. As per my earlier post…I’m looking to shine a bit more and do more of a primary role as opposed to a secondary role. So I’m not sure if I relish the role I’m in right now…but Fr. Dave hears my concerns and values me and is trying to get me more involved in the show. I’m sure they’ll be other opportunities at Sirius anyway for me to contribute more, both with our shows and with others.

No word yet on a launch date…but we’ll let you know.

Soul Searching

I’ve been thinking a lot about my present life situation these days. Over the past 6 years I’ve become one of the experts in my ministry field, built a national web presence for the Paulists, started and co-hosted a podcast, and led a very successful retreat program (probably what I’m most proud of). I also have been a husband for just under five years and am hopefully going to become a father in the coming year, if adoption plans go through. I’ve travelled to three different countries and two of those countries I’ve now been to three times (Nicaragua and Canada-Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver and Victoria). Oh yeah, I got a Master’s Degree and I wrote a book.


So what am I longing for in my life these days? Seemingly I have lots of accomplishments–that I am indeed proud of. Yet, I have a burning hunger for more. BustedHalo has grown up and is basically under the more than capable hands of Bill McGarvey. I still contribute to the site and produce the blog and the ask father joe series…but it certainly has been a reduction in the need for me to hover over day to day operations.

Since I’m not a priest, I often get overshadowed by my boss, Fr Dave..who is very gregarious and extroverted. Like me, he likes control, has strong expectations, and loves the limelight. Because he’s a priest, he naturally gets more pastoral opportunities–and people are more naturally drawn to him for counselling and pastoral work. Like me, he’s a great presenter…and I mean lights out. He’s funny, charming, and always on.

Somehow it all feels like a competition for pastoral attention…which is good and bad. Competition by design pushes us to be better. So I think I demand excellence of myself. At the same time, I feel that we sometimes have a less than collaborative relationship…not that we don’t work well together…we do. It’s more of a ownership issue. I often get to play the secondary role, or a visioning role –while someone else gets to finish the project or flesh out an idea I began. While I don’t mind having my ideas twisted and turned and I have the ability to “be in the room” and let others pick away at the brainstorming sessions where we debate ideas–I often don’t feel like I’m owning any of it for myself–where my compadres seem to grasp more tightly to a project that they can own for themselves and are given full credit.

I’m sure I’ll feel differently when my book actually is in print. But that’s a year away. Sigh.

I’ve given some thought to becoming a deacon. My thinking is that maybe I earn more respect with ordination and maybe more doors open for me ministerially. The lay person is often looked upon by the laity as “secondary”. And in some ways rightfully so. And there are many restrictions on what I can and can’t do as a lay person and professional minister in the Catholic Church. Recently, I had to turn down a request by someone to officiate at their wedding. I was touched that they even considered asking me–but obviously that’s something I can’t do. I led a wake service for my wife’s family once and while sad…it was one of the great joys of my life to bring comfort to those in pain. Ironically, the wake was for my wife’s uncle Andy who was a Deacon and a big inspiration to me.

So in the coming year, I’m giving thought to where I feel most called and what I have to contribute. What can I do that’s uniquely me? I’m putting myself in my own life coaching program and asking myself the big question:

If I could do anything tomorrow, what would that be like?

I’ll be blogging about this from time to time. So stay tuned and weigh in with your own thoughts…I’m sure to find that helpful.


Much like the great example that John Paul II gave when he forgave his assassin, today we look to our Amish brothers and sisters who have openly forgiven the man who killed 5 Amish women in a senseless act of revenge over a 20 year grudge.

Thursday’s funerals were scheduled for Naomi Rose Ebersole, 7; Marian Fisher, 13; Mary Liz Miller, 8; and her sister Lena Miller, 7, according to The Associated Press.

Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12, is to be buried Friday, AP reported.

Five other girls who were victims of the shooting remained hospitalized — three in critical condition and two in serious condition. They ranged in age from 6 to 13.

Roberts, 32, shot the 10 girls Monday and then committed suicide as police stormed the schoolhouse. The truck driver brought lubricating jelly and plastic restraints with him, and may have been planning to sexually assault the Amish girls, police said.

I wonder what is going through the minds of those families today and yesterday while they prepare the bodies in their home (as is their tradition) for the funeral and burial? Somehow their FIRST thought was one of peace and forgiveness.

Today let us pray that we all may be able to be inspired by their example and be able to overcome the grudges in our own lives and forgive the petty things that we encounter in our lives.

Halo bangin’ to Slayer

What’s next? The BustedHalo.com mosh pit?

An absolutely awesome column by Dave Nantais about Slayer’s new album on BustedHalo.com.
A lot of my high school friends were metal-heads so I listened to a bit of this stuff growing up…not my thing really but I do think the lyrics of a lot of these songs are brilliant.