Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Charis gets a shout out

Charis Ministries was recognized in an article in America Magazine as one of the "most successful" programs available "to help young adults cultivate a spiritual life within the church." Tim Muldoon's article "Sowing the Seeds for Ministry" gives five ways to reach Catholics in their 20s and 30s.

The 5 C's of young adult ministry are:
Community-how do we bring young people together?
Cooperation-how do we work with other organizations to meet the needs?
Communication-what is the Catholic presence on the internet?
Consultation-how do we form leaders for the Church?
Catechesis-how do we foster growth in faith? Including a shout out to Fr. Michael and Charis!

If you get a chance to check out the rest of the July 21, 2008 issue of America, there are quite a few other articles about young adult ministry that are worth a read. It's great to see it being recognized on a national level.

-Lauren G

Friday, August 15, 2008

Service Trip Scrapbook

Now that we've had time to gather our thoughts, our notes, our photos and videos of our July Service Trip to Pontotoc, I thought I'd share our Quote Board and some video.

Clete compiled all our quotes, so I give him all the credit; and am happy to post this video of him entertaining us from the roof. Turn up the volume.

To prove that we did actual work, I present to you my short documentary "A Day in the Life of a Roof Truss." In our down time, we got to play ball in the gym with our new friends.

Quote Board 2008:

Dania to Keith: "What is that?"
Keith Dania: "Well, this is called a wall."

"You do good work, you just don't do much of it."
Bill's advice to all Charis Ministry volunteers at the job site Monday

Bill to Dave: "Grab a hammer over yonder."
Dave: "Where is it, here?
Bill: "No. YONDER."

"Hit it like you live it ... hard."
Brother Ken, an estimated 4,362 times, delivering the theme of Charis Ministries' 2008 Pontotoc Service Trip

"Read 'em and laugh, guys!"
Clete, revealing a particularly bad hand in the game Phase 10

"Do you know you have paint in your hair?"
About 12 people to Karen in one day

"I want to be called Paris (Hilton)."
Brian, requesting a new name, on the off day ride to Clarksdale

"A perfect symbol of our ineptitude."
Chris, describing a picture of a locked gate at a Delta Mississippi River Park that was closed by flooding

"All of the sudden I'm driving behind (Mario) Andretti!"
Chris, describing his efforts to keep up with Lead Foot Lindsey

"Ah man, I don't want to grease up."
Lindsey, lamenting having to apply sunscreen before work on Tuesday

"You can say anything about anybody as long as you punctuate it with 'Bless their heart.'"
Brother Ken

"We have this game at home."
Lauren, calling in Brian and Clete from shooting hoops at a visiting church

"Thanks, guys, appreciate it. ... (10 seconds later) FLY!"
Lauren, dismissing the group from our daily reflection

"It's so hot, I saw a dog chasing a rabbit. They were both walking."
Bill, describing Thursday's 100-degree heat index humidity

Dave to Keith: "I'm slow."
Keith to Dave: "You're slow, but you're dependable."

Lauren: "I don't know why, but everywhere I went people knew I was from out of town."
Keith: "I don't know what gave it away."

Glenda to Susan: "Go straight home."
Susan: "Where else is there to go in Pontotoc?"

"There is still hope for humanity, and it's every day people -- that's you guys."
Patrick, saying thanks and goodbye to the Charis Ministries group

- Lauren B. & Clete C.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Come to the Quiet: Very Productive…wait…productive?

A few weeks before I attended the Charis Come to the Quiet retreat at Bellarmine Retreat House in Barrington, Illinois, I was asking my spiritual director if she had any guidance for me before I entered into the two and a half days of silence. She started out by asking me how I dealt with silent retreats, (how did I function on them, did I like them), to which I replied matter-of-factly, “They’re very productive for me.”

After the session ended I had to stop and think about my choice of words. Productive? Was I expecting an end result? Was some internal button going to click “ON” and all of a sudden I would understand my role in the cosmic order of things? I entered into the retreat with a spirit of curiosity provoked by my own language.

Too often I struggle with projecting my own expectations onto life:

  • I want to finish graduate school by a certain time
  • I want to be so far along with a career by another time
  • I want to be engaged, then married and on the path for having children by a certain age
  • I should gain a spiritual peak/awareness from a certain experience or retreat.

The idea of leaving my intentions of productive silence behind was both appealing and liberating. By dropping my expectations of productivity the time and space instantly felt lighter, more interesting, and more inviting. Over the course of the retreat I tried to be present to the moment, to the space around me, and most importantly I was present to my own feelings. This was the most “productive” part of the weekend. I was finally able to be present to what was happening around me and within me, not for any conclusive purpose but because my busy life does not often permit such a privileged space of carved out silence for prayer and reflection.

- Katie V.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Drink in the Summer Graces

This summer, I had the privilege of visiting 10 local hot spots to talk about “Friendship in Fast-Paced World” as part of Theology-on-Tap, a 4-week speaker and discussion series aimed at young adults interested in discussing topics related to where they’re at in life.

My presentation was inspired by the students I work with at the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University, my experiences of friendship through Charis Ministries, and my personal life.

I spoke at a number of locations including North Central College (Naperville), St. Sylvester (Chicago), and St. James (Highwood). Some of the main themes that came up were:

  • What are the advantages and challenges to electronic communication, especially Facebook? The local college students home for the summer asked, “How do we stay connected with others, and is there a difference between our “Facebook friends” and our “face-to-face” friends?”
  • Friendship requires honesty, acceptance, and a sense of humor. During the recent thunderstorm that swept through the city, the young adults of St. Sylvester agreed friends who have seen us at our best and worst, and still like us anyway are the truest of friends.
  • The type of friendship Jesus seeks with us is a face-to-face relationship. The community at St. James traveled from near and far to share an abundance of food and drink and generous conversation. W talked about how Jesus feeds our hunger for faith and friendship. Like the multiplication of loaves and fishes, Jesus promises that there will always be enough.

This experience was such a blessing, and I truly appreciate the friends, new and old, who participated in this year’s Theology-on-Tap.

- Beth K.

Friday, August 8, 2008

God, Dating, and Beer...what more could you want to talk about?

Last week, a mere 4 days after returning from Australia, I had the privilege of speaking at four Theology on Tap sites for the Diocese of Joliet. I credit the topic, “Between match.com and the Altar: A Catholic’s Guide to Dating,” with being the draw that brought people out. Never having spoken at a TOT before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but talking to a bar full of 20-and 30-somethings while dodging waitresses bringing fish and chips was a pretty funny experience.

In the talk, and in the conversations that followed, we talked about four themes that, at least in my mind, come up in most serious dating relationships:

1. Discernment—How do I know if this person is the person I should marry?
2. Conscience Formation—How do I make moral decisions, especially regarding sex?
3. Relationships—How do other relationships change when dating someone new? How should my dating relationship grow?
4. Intimacy—Where do I find intimacy and what does that look like?

Thanks to everyone who came out to Quigley’s Irish Pub (Naperville), Pilot Pete’s (Schaumburg), Auld Dubliner Irish Pub (Bolingbrook) and Champp's Americana (Lombard). It was great to spend the evening with you!

-Lauren G.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grace for Today

It's been two weeks since I got back from Australia and the World Youth Day adventures. I'd like to say that the "I've just experienced something intensely moving and I want to go change the world!" feeling has not died down. But you know how it goes - you get back into the busyness of work, catching up with friends, visiting family members, going on road trips, restocking the pantry, going out to eat or grabbing an ice cream cone... Where does one have time to reflect a pilgrimage experience, or the ways in which your life has been graced by God and the Holy Spirit?

Well God works in mysterious ways. During these past two weeks, I've attended a Theology on Tap presentation by past Charis Apostolic Board member Beth Knobbe called "Friendship in a Fast-Paced World" and I've signed up to be a volunteer for St. Vincent DePaul Church's chapter of SPRED (helping developmentally and physically disabled children from 6-10 years old explore their spirituality). One thing I learned in Australia is that giving and being present to others in an unconditional and unselfish way is important to me, and something I had lost since moving to the fast-paced, materialistic, and egocentric city of Chicago. It's time to focus on me, my relationship with God, my friendships, and the ways I can give back to the community in a way that is meaningful and uplifting. It won't be easy, but I'm ready to start!