An Evening with the Youth

October, 22, 2014

Silence fell for a few minutes as around 14 young religious education students intently watched me. I banished all nervousness and carefully traced out a big dove on the chalkboard, representing the Holy Spirit. Inside the blank wings, I began writing prayer intentions as the classroom instructor Tracy, had asked. I filled the space with words like “My family” “The Pope” “The sick and poor.” Each student intently copied the picture and were asked to write their own prayer intentions. While comparing each others’ pictures, their talking started anew. I smiled, watching Tracy speak on the Sacrament of Confirmation, hitting all the key points about rededicating ones’self and accepting the gifts of the Holy Ghost. She had some of the children participate in a demonstration where chocolate syrup was stirred in a glass of milk to symbolize the actions of these gifts on our souls. Afterwards, she asked me if I like it.

“Yes, you did a great job,” I said.

Time for refreshments arrived and I volunteered to help bring them to the classroom. Several other classes, each named after a saint, were doing their own demonstrations. Voices echoed in the hallway, papers rustled in the students’ hands. A dark-haired boy with light-brown skin followed me. I turned to him and he said, “I’m helping.”

Smiling I said, “That’s great, thank you.”

“No problem, I love to volunteer,” he replied in a suave voice that tried to make it sound really cool.

After four trips of bringing plates of pretzels and Cheetos and glasses of red Kool-aid and water, we had passed out all the refreshments. At one point I had to help him because in his ambition, he’d taken too many cups and they were almost spilling. I thanked him again for volunteering. We sat down and as my own excitement brewed, I tried to be as least distracting as possible.

Tracy approached the back of the classroom where I sat. We spoke about future lesson plans, one involving the sacrament of reconciliation and the other involving anointing of the sick. She mentioned a pile of pamphlets I’d given her months ago about the priesthood, saying the youth ministry leader wished to distribute them on the night planned for discussing Holy Orders. My eyes meandered around the room, settling on each of the young men who loudly talked and engaged in horseplay. My thoughts circled eagerly. I couldn’t help but wonder which of them may possibly be called to the priesthood, to nourish the church of the future. And for me, that mystery was one of the greatest joys of all.

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