Ministry with youth —
This year’s catechetical theme, offered by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,” is a fitting theme for those embarking on a sharing of the faith with others. Throughout the diocese and across the country, youth ministers, along with all other parish catechists, will be commissioned on Catechetical Sunday, Sept. 20, to go out and bring Christ to all.
Reaching out to the youth at St. Pius X Parish in Granger is director of youth ministries Brittany Tull. She has been with St. Pius X for three years and has served on several diocesan youth event committees, including last year’s confirmation rally. Through her gift of music she connects with teens in a special way.
“I play guitar, violin and sing in the St. Pius choir, and I enjoy being able to play music during our adoration times with the teens,” shared Tull. “I heard God’s call, during a major faith experience when I was 16 and at a youth conference, to serve the Church — to share what has been handed on to me, through my love and devotion to the Eucharist.”
Tull is originally from Florida. She met her husband, James, during a summer session at the University of Notre Dame and eventually settled in South Bend. “I attended a Catholic church with my mom and received all my sacraments; however, my brother and sister and I were also very active in the Protestant church my dad attended. It was my grandma who thought we needed more Catholic influence and signed for a summer conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus in Ohio,” Tull shared. “It was during adoration at the conference where I had a major conversion.”
“I didn’t realize until that moment that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Jesus said to me, ‘If you know me, then why don’t you recognize me?’ I knew I wanted to know Him even more. I chose to attend the Franciscan University of Steubenville for my undergraduate studies to learn and grow in my faith.”
Upon graduation Tull discerned the need to learn more about catechesis and applied to the Echo program at the University of Notre Dame. Through the program she was able to apprentice for a parish in Texas for two years while taking coursework to complete a Master of Theology degree. Afterward, she served the parish for two more years.
At retreats, weekly gatherings and social justice activities, the youth at St. Pius X are very active and engaged. “This summer we were able to have our Rising Freshman retreat, which helps the teens continue to live their faith in high school. It’s so important for the teens to have this transition time as they discover how they can play a part in helping the Church come alive.”
Tull spends time training and developing a core team of volunteers who want to help in the youth ministry program. The team has learned to be very creative during this time of social distancing and the emptiness of social media.
“Teens have been hit very hard during this pandemic. They’re old enough to understand but can’t do anything about it. Youth ministry is here to fill this void and offer teens the opportunity to be in community. God created us to be in community with one another. Youth ministry has to meet in person,” she said.
“Young people need this time of social gathering, so we meet outside as much as possible. I have each teen bring their own blanket to sit on: This is their ‘no-mask place’ while we are outside. During our teaching nights we gather in small groups on our blankets and have open discussions about the talk that has just been presented by one of the core team members. ‘What does this mean, and how do I live this out in my life?’
At St. Pius X, the Life Teen model is used for high school youth. It includes social justice activities, teaching nights, spiritual nights that include adoration and prayer experiences, along with a time to build community through interactive game activities.
“I feel it is so important to develop the whole person as we minister to these young people. We have a great time playing kickball and whiffle ball filled with shaving cream, having movie nights and helping each one find a way that works out best for them to live out their faith,” Tull said.
She introduces different ways of praying during “spiritual nights” that allow teens to experience the traditions of the faith. The teens have already learned how to pray the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola; the Daily Examen; tapped into their creative sides; and made icons on wood blocks — along with praying the rosary and spending time in adoration.
Tull wants the teens to know that Jesus is in charge of the Church, and that they need to trust in Him. “We are here to fight the good fight, do our best and trust in Him in all things.”
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.