Being part of a community is a necessary component of our spiritual lives. The need for community is even more important for youth, who seek answers to their questions and look for like-minded friends. Here at St. Mary Catholic Church, the Life Teen program provides our youth with the incredible opportunity to find community, learn about the faith, and have fun.
Jordan and DJ McDowell lead the ministry. They’ve been involved in the program here for the last four years, having gotten involved shortly after they were married. Last year, they began serving as Youth Directors.
“Life Teen is a youth group focused on meeting high school-age teens where they are at in their faith by discussing topics pertinent to them in a way that allows them to come together, grow, and have fun,” Jordan says.
The program seeks to find ways to make the faith accessible and relevant to teens, covering materials through various ways such as discussions, presentations, movies, games, and lots of social time.
“This is a safe place to come and truly get your thoughts out on the table and discuss them in comparison to what the Catholic Church teaches and understand the ‘why’ behind the Catholic Church’s teachings,” DJ says.
The Life Teen program meets weekly throughout the year. A typical gathering kicks off with social time, followed by an activity, game, or sport. Oftentimes, there is a component of teaching tied in with a lesson for the night. Jordan and DJ’s goal is to meet the teens where they are at in their faith journeys. Many of the students already know Church teachings.
“We try and take what they already know and apply it to real-life situations they might encounter,” Jordan says. “For example, we worked with them, taking their knowledge of prayer and how to pray, and building on that by discussing discernment and hearing God’s voice. We spent multiple lessons covering what discernment is, how to properly discern, how to prepare yourself to properly discern, and why it is important.”
“This ministry is important to the parish community because youth are the future of the Church,” DJ adds. “When a church does not invest time, energy, and resources into its youth, that church is not investing in its future. That church also risks losing its future. Therefore, we feel it is important to invest time and energy into the teens, so when they graduate and go out on their own, they will truly know who they are as a child of God and have a strong, lasting faith life.”
The Life Teen program meets on Sundays in St. Joseph Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. throughout the school year. It is open to all students from ninth through 12th grade. There are also summer volleyball and ice cream nights on Wednesday evenings, 7 to 9 p.m., throughout the summer. And there are always opportunities to serve with the Life Teen program!
For more information or to get involved, contact Jordan McDowell at email@example.com or 517-294-0918, or DJ McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-650-7587.