Two weeks ago, I helped lead a Kairos retreat for a group of confirmation candidates. For those of you who don’t know, a Kairos retreat isn’t a normal Catholic retreat. Things get really emotional. It’s probably one of my favorite retreat structures. Instead of teaching so much, it focuses on personal witnesses, things these teens can relate to. Let me just say, there were a few points in this retreat I was moved to tears. My teens are awesome. In the end of the retreat, we gave them a chance to get up in front of everyone and speak to the group about what they experienced this weekend and whatever was on their mind. These kids had me choking back tears. One told us that this retreat changed him. He didn’t know what it was that changed but he didn’t want to be so angry as he had been. If you know this kid, your jaw would’ve dropped. Then when one of the girls in my small group got up and spoke, she burst out in tears. I lost it.
As retreat leaders, we never usually get to see the fruit of our labors. Sometimes that can be discouraging. It leaves you wondering if what you’re doing is working or even worth it. The last talk of the retreat is about living out the fourth day. The fourth day meaning the days after the retreat. We talk about what they can do to live out their faith and what they learned this weekend after the retreat. Here’s where our job ends. We may never know how these teens live out their faith after mass ends. I will say immediately after the retreat, some of the Core searched twitter to see teens reactions to the weekend. Massive favorite/retweet spree! But you never usually see things said about it later than a day or two. Today was an exception.
I was doing my normal scroll through twitter and I came across a tweet that made my day. On Sunday morning of the retreat, we said a rosary before breakfast. These teens were half asleep. I didn’t think they cared. One of our teens posted that he said a rosary before his mid year exam and it was the easiest test he’s ever take and it “seems legit”. Insta-RT.
So a message to all of you in youth ministry, don’t get discouraged if you think the teens don’t care about what you’re saying. Chances are one of them does. They may not come up to you and tell you but that’s not why we’re in this. We shouldn’t be looking for affirmation. We put our own needs and desires aside for the good of the teens. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in YM this past year.