How to Evangelize Young People

I’ve been on so many awesome retreats lately! For one of the retreats I was not only a participant, but also held a leadership position. Initially, I thought my duties as a leader might detract from my own experience. I learned that that is entirely untrue. My experience was enriched as a leader.

There really truly is nothing more fulfilling than helping others in their faith. I definitely wouldn’t have been ready to take on this role a couple of years ago. I am now at a point where I am comfortable enough with my Catholic faith that I am ready to share with others.

Here are what I see as the keys to evangelizing young people:

1) Be joyous. Others will wonder why you’re joyous and when they find out the cause of your joy is Jesus, they will want to find joy in Him too.

2) Be a people-person. Talk to tons of people and have a genuine interest in them. Try really hard to remember their names. Evangelization is all about relationships. Make lots of friends. They’ll see that you’re nice and will link that niceness to your Catholic faith.

3) Don’t be afraid to be goofy. Throw all self consciousness aside, especially in the retreat setting. Do the goofy dance moves that go with songs. Have an over-abundance of team spirit if you’re split into groups. Others will sense your enthusiasm and link it to a love of Catholicism.

4) Be devout in front of the Blessed Sacrament, at Mass, etc. Others will emulate this and understand the importance of God.

Reason #23457765432224 On Why Church Rocks

Whenever I walk into church, it’s the best feeling ever. Know what I mean?

During the week, particularly during the school year, I’m ultra busy and probably technically sleep-deprived. Every minute, there’s something I have to think about, something I have to do, somewhere I have to go.

And then there’s Mass on Saturday. (I rarely go on Sunday because I like to sleep late, but I go Sunday if I can’t make Saturday.) When I enter the church, I let all those worries and obligations of the world temporarily disappear. It’s such a calming and happy time. Being in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist certainly helps.

It’s such a fantastic opportunity to reflect on what you’ve done the past week, how God has been active in your life, and how you want to live your life!

It’s like a weekly retreat. I don’t know how I’d get through life without Mass.

–Oh wait.–

It’s true that I didn’t go to Mass regularly until I was 16 (I’m 18 now.) when I had my conversion experience.

And when I look at how my life has changed since going to Mass, I must say, the results are stunning:

Before: stressed, negative, complaining.

After: less stressed (it’s impossible to be stress-free as a high school student), positive, less trepidation regarding the unknown.

The biggest change was that I gained a better perspective on life. Before, if I had done poorly on a test, it would have been the end of the world. Now it’s more like, “God have given me this grade for a reason, such as to humble me.”

So, yeah. Mass rocks. Come to Mass.

What Makes Passionately Catholic Teens?

Some teens happily and willingly go to Mass. Others sit moodily in Confirmation class waiting to go home. So what causes this difference?

In my opinion, it has everything to do with the parents. It’s really pretty simple. If the parents passionately profess the Catholic faith, their kids will too. If the parents don’t really care, their kid won’t really care either. I mean seriously, how can a teen be happy to go to Confirmation class if his/her parents aren’t enthusiastic about church? Even if the parents reluctantly go to Mass, that’s still not good enough. Teens pick up on that. The parents have to be genuine about their love of God and the Church.

Of course, I love being Catholic even though my parents aren’t devout. (I used to be that teen who thought religion classes were a pain. See my conversion story for more details on how that changed.) Unfortunately, I tend to be more the exception than the rule.

But I don’t know one truly devout family whose teens have rejected the faith.

Is It My Imagination, Or…

Lately I’ve been seeing more people at Mass. More teens. Is it just my imagination? Have you noticed this too? I don’t know if it’s just a local phenomenon or what.

I can think of a few possible explanations for this increase in attendance.

My less interesting theories:

1) The college students are home.

2) With the school year wrapping up, people aren’t as “busy,” which is apparently a common excuse for not going to Mass.

My more interesting theories:

1) Pope Francis is super cool and this inspires people to go to Mass.

2) Or maybe….my generation loves Catholicism!

But seriously! There was a least one teen in every couple of rows of pews today at Vigil Mass! Yesssssss! This is a great sign!

Is my generation more passionate about being Catholic than the Vatican II generation? That would probably be a very good thing. As I understand it, a lot of people who grew up during Vatican II were somewhat discouraged by all the things changing in the Catholic Church.

Over the 2000 year history (oh, no big deal that we’ve been around THAT long, right?) of the Church, there have been highs and lows in Catholic vigor. To my generation: let’s bring Catholicism alive in our time!!!!! 😉

Must-Watch YouTube Channels for Catholic Teens

Let me share some of my favorite video resources with you fellow young Catholics!!

1) New Catholic Generation: NCG is a group of Catholic vloggers ages 16-19. I thoroughly enjoy watching their videos! I highly recommend them! Some of the YouTube channel names: ChurchTriumphant, teenconvert, youngcatholicapologe, Lucy S., Sirena Mafnas, SheIsCatholic, WhyImCatholic, CalledToBeCatholic, MayHeBePraised, PureBrideOfChrist, Damon Hopkins, Rachel Kateri Hitchcock, SheSpeaksWithWisdom, CatholicSwagGirl, RebornPureAdmin (who started NCG), and Kephasmartyr. There are even more, I’m sure, but I haven’t discovered them all yet. These fellow Catholics have such great things to say, and it’s encouraging to know that there are so many other passionate Catholic teens out there!!

2) YouTube channel “Jérôme, Le Cathologue”: This is a great channel if you want to simultaneously learn Catholic stuff and improve your French. These videos are put on by some Catholic TV channel in France. They’re super funny, super informative, and super well done.

3) YouTube channel WordOnFire: These videos aren’t specifically for a teenage audience, but they’re still great. Videos are done by Father Robert Barron and his Chicago ministry Word on Fire, which produced the acclaimed “Catholicism” video series. Fr. Barron basically comments on society, politics, and religion in his videos. He’s really smart and I always learn a lot listening to his videos.

Religious References in The Hunger Games

I love the Hunger Games. Books, movies, all of it. Have you ever noticed the religious references in the series? Disclaimer: This list is not all-inclusive. Also, I may be pushing it at times. Another Disclaimer: SPOILER ALERT!!

  • Panem means “bread.” We Catholics love bread and the Eucharist.
  • You know when you learn about Christ figures in English class? Why couldn’t Katniss be one? She’s willing to sacrifice herself for the good of Panem. Katniss ministers to the sick in Mockingjay at the makeshift hospital just before it is bombed. Katniss loves children— she volunteers for Prim as tribute, and she cares greatly for Rue in her first Hunger Games. Also, Katniss provides food for her family— Jesus provided food for 5000 people out of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
  • What about Peeta as a Christ figure? He’s also willing to sacrifice himself for others. Jesus is the Bread of Life, and Peeta makes bread, anyway.
  • Girl on Fire? Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying Katniss is supposed to represent the Holy Spirit. But there’s definitely some religious imagery there.
  • 12 Districts (okay, technically 13, but ignore that right now). 12 Tribes of Israel.
  • The motto of Panem is “Panem et Circensis” (Bread and Circuses), which is in Latin.

Thought of any others? Comment!