Youth Ministry and More

Dear Friends,

Our Youth Ministry has gotten off to a tremendous start. Both Matt Kirsch and Alex Price, our Youth Ministers, have been busy meeting with various groups, signing up our youth to participate, planning and executing a number of activities that are fun, catechetical and service oriented. It is a very exciting moment, as everyone who is participating is helping to lay the foundation for the future and contributing to the missionary zeal of being young disciples of the Lord Jesus.

There are now (October 17) 134 youth registered from 16 different schools. More are added daily. The number is almost evenly divided between the junior high and the senior high level students. Matt and Alex have met with an adult advisory board who will meet quarterly to look at the successes and the challenges of youth ministry. More adults are

needed in every capacity. So don’t be afraid to reach out to them and to volunteer for whatever you are available for.

You may have noticed that the junior high group is named 4Thirteens (from Philippians 4:13 ~ “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.”) and the senior high group is named BOLD (Becoming our Lord’s Disciples). They discuss some aspect of faith monthly, enter into prayer, Scripture reflection, praise and worship, Eucharistic adoration or guided meditations. The gatherings include icebreakers to warm the group up. Both groups also participate in various service projects on weekends and share in social activities as well. May God bless all those signed up already and all those participating in the various events throughout the year. Keep all of them in your good prayers. And may many more sign up for whatever they are able to do.

In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus is being put on the spot about taxes to the emperor. It is a trick question. About the coin used to pay the tax, Jesus asks a simple but direct question, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” Of course, it is Caesar’s. Then Jesus lowers the boom, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” We can almost see the perplexity on the faces of his interrogators and perhaps the glee on His disciples faces. But the reply is spoken to you and me as well.

How do we use what God gives to us? Not just our talents and gifts but even our monetary blessings? It is an important and life changing question. In the Catholic World, there have been countless capital campaigns, countless collections for special needs, innumerable requests for help to pay bills, to reduce debt, to raise money for special needs. But all of that is short lived. And all of that is missing the point. We should not give to needs as pressing as they may be. We should give because we have received, and in gratitude share what we have received by giving. Ultimately, as human beings we have the need to give, to share what we have with others. That is what God does! And we are made in His image and likeness.

Search the Scriptures, there are plenty of passages that speak to our need to give, listen to Jesus who explains to us the reason why we are to give. Study the Saints, they give plenty of evidence as to why and how it is important to our spiritual lives that we give charitably to the needs of others.

Think about it in your own individual lives. What percent do you put aside to give back to God? Did you ever take a quick look at your income tax return, comparing your income to your charitable donations and working out the percentage?

Among Christians, we Catholics tend to be on the bottom of the barrel. We certainly can say that we’ve accomplished a lot. But that is not the point. We need to give back graciously, joyfully and in gratitude. What are we giving?

Personal tithing is a sure and easy way to biblically respond to the overwhelming goodness of God. If we are currently giving 1% of our income ~ why not increase it to 2%? If we are giving 1.5% of our income charitably, why not increase that to 2.5%? What does that 1% increase amount to? Is it a few Starbucks? A night at the movies? I am guessing that it is less than taking the family to the Eagles, or to dinner at a fine restaurant. Will we really miss it?

When we give back to God, God rewards abundantly because HE WILL NEVER BE OUTDONE IN GENEROSITY! Just think on it and then pray on it and then act on it.

God bless you, God love you,

Monsignor McCulken

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