Did you know that...
· Catholic instruction is incorporated into every meeting?
· Some of our youths are being pressured to leave the Faith?
· Kids come because they want to?
· Our youths are asking how to defend the Faith to their friends, family members, and teachers (apologetics)?
· Scripture reading or reference is an integral part of our gatherings?
In 1998 our youth named the group "Exodus" to underscore the faith journey that all of us--young and old, are making. Exodus Youth Group met every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month at St. Ann's Church library and was open to any 7th-12th grader who wants to grow, learn, and have fun with other Christian youth. The meetings loosely follow the following format:
"After snacks, social time, and announcements, various activities are used to help us recognize our role in the modern world and help us make wise choices. There is role-playing, journaling, and analysis of modern culture and how it affects our lives. The reality of peer pressure as a significant obstacle is often addressed. We are challenged to find our true vocation.
We delve more deeply into our prayer life.
We participate in Scripture reading and reflection while defending Catholic doctrine. There is acknowledgment of individual weaknesses and how to overcome them. Our relationship with Christ is stressed as the most important relationship. We're given real, hands-on ways to deal with the issues we face.
Exodus meetings always close with age-appropriate prayer or meditations, often with music and candles."
MRS. MIK'S RULES:
"What's Said At Youth Group Stays At Youth Group" (also known as the "Las Vegas" rule)
"Cliques Not Allowed" (we're all brothers and sisters in Christ)
"No Gossiping" (the tongue is a weapon of mass destruction)
"Inappropriate Language Unacceptable" (and I decide what is "inappropriate")
"If Someone Is Sharing, Be Quiet." (if it isn't your mouth, please shut it)
"Bring Enough Snacks To Share" (eating without fair distribution makes people feel very...sniff...unloved)
"What I Say, Goes" (some people call this the "Mrs. Mik is always right" rule, but this is totally untrue.
I very often admit when I am wrong, however, I AM, AND ALWAYS WILL BE, EXCLUSIVELY, THE BOSS! * )
Formerly we had 20-25 kids per gathering.
PARENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME TO COME TO ANY MEETING, ANY TIME.
There were also many special events that young people (6th-12th grade)
and their families are encouraged to participate in:
"24 Hour Food Fast"
"Souper Bowl Sunday"
St. Ann School Fundraisers
"Hands of Christ"
Movie/Bowling Night Youth Masses
Hornell Ministerium Events
"Senior Scene" at the Cathedral
Faith in Action
ALL ARE WELCOMED AT YOUTH GROUP.
EACH YOUNG PERSON IS TO RESPECT THE INDIVIDUALITY, AGE,
AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE OTHER.
WE ARE A FAMILY, AND BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIPS
HAVE DEVELOPED AT OUR GATHERINGS.
We had a supportive parent network & three very special, "regular" volunteers:
Mrs. Haley, Mrs. Flaitz, “Mrs. Mac”
(we love you ladies!)
"OK, that all looks nice, but what do the teens who actually GO to youth group have to say?"
"It's really difficult to truly describe how much attending youth group a couple times a month really means to me. It has changed the way I perceive all aspects of my life; school, sports, and what kind of things I do with my free time. At each meeting, I learn something new and enlightening that helps me live my life as a better Christian, and less concerned with only myself. This is my third year attending youth group, and I really wish I would have joined sooner. It's such a good feeling to know that there are people your own age that you can relate to through faith, rather than the "normal teenage activities." It's like a big, happy family, who can do fun things together, and can live their lives prospering in the eyes of God. I really cannot think of anything I'd rather do with my Sunday evenings, than learn, pray, laugh, and share stories with God and the rest of this loving 'family.' "
"Youth Group has been a faith-filled journey. When I go to the meetings I go because I want to. I go because every meeting is one to look forward to and I know it will be another adventurous journey into who I really am or who I should try to be. It's not just a social experience, but a new understanding of true faith in God. There are younger friends that I can help with their faith, and there are older kids who I can learn from and trust in their judgment. It's good to know there are other kids my age who share in the same beliefs as I do. Youth Group is very important in my life. If I wasn't able to attend it I would definitely not be the person that I am right now."
"Youth Group has meant so much to me over the past year. I've met new friends, and found a new love for God. Youth group has meaning for so many of us who go. I thank God for all those who help us find the path to God."
"Youth Group is very important to me because I get to learn more about the Catholic faith in fun ways. I've gotten to become friends with those younger and older than me, which has given me a chance to mentor to younger kids and learn a lot from the older ones. I get to reach out to those in need through our various service projects. I've learned that there's more to life than school or sports. Through youth group I have learned that faith in God is the most important thing and I have become a more tolerant, more educated, and more spiritual person."
"Youth group in so many ways helped me mature. It helped me learn not to be afraid of who I am, a Child of God. With the encouragement of Mrs. Mikolajczyk and other youth group members, I've really overcome the tension or self-consciousness that most teenagers have. Youth group is like a home away from home, where everyone accepts you for you. And that acceptance helped me be comfortable with myself, my faith, and my life. It's impossible to explain youth group in just a paragraph, but if there's one thing that I love the most, it's the unity of the members. There's no doubt that Holy Spirit is keeping us together. Just last year, great friends from youth group graduated and went to college. I am still in contact them. In contact meaning praying for them, them praying for me, and talking about important issues that are good to discuss with fellow teenage Catholics. All of these great feelings come from Youth Group."