What do we have to lose? That was my thought as Christy Louwagie (DRE/Youth Minister at Eden Valley/Watkins) and I hammered out the details for our combined youth lake nights. In my mind, we already both were adding things left and right to our schedule to provide fun and faith-filled opportunities for our youth, so why not do something together?
We both could relate to the challenges of rural parish life, the busy summer lives of our parishioners, and the business of our own personal schedules, so why not divide and conquer! I decided to take on planning the exact details of food, speakers and securing a lifeguard for the lake nights if Christy would focus on the end of the summer bash on August 14.
Veteran’s Park on Lake Koronis was a great neutral spot for us all to come together. Because lakes are a natural staple of Minnesota summer life, we were happy to see the 20-some teens who attended were all for it as they enjoyed swimming, sitting on the beach, eating the plentiful snacks in the picnic shelter, and playing volleyball. We hosted three consecutive nights in July that started at seven and ended at nine.
We also incorporated a faith component that was completely driven by the Holy Spirit. The first week, the teens heard from Kari Hoeft, a Culture Project missionary, who spoke on the call to be a saint. The second week they heard from Emily Weidner, a Bison Newman Catholic attendee, who shared strategies and stories about the fruitfulness of having a strong Catholic community outside of high school. Then, on the third week, my husband, Thomas, and I shared our testimony and the message of chastity.
We are ending the summer on August 14 at Assumption in Eden Valley by listening to speaker Brian Gibson from Pro-Life Action Ministries, playing slip and slide kickball, and enjoying snacks and time together. As we look ahead to next year, we will continue to plan to do youth group nights together, alternating the sites, and spreading the love and joy of Jesus to our youth. Christy and I are extremely excited to continue to work together and evangelize the good news to our Area Catholic Community.
Submitted by Kelli Kleinschnitz, youth ministry coordinator for the parishes of St. Margaret in Lake Henry, St. Agnes in Roscoe and St. Louis in Paynesville. Edited by Christy Louwagie.