May 6 Confirmation Ceremony

We are now in the home stretch, with less than a week until Confirmation day at Ascension Parish! We have an excellent group of Conformandi that will receive the Sacrament on May 6. Please utilize this post to help with loose ends and questions that you may have.

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS AND DISCLAIMER
The unfortunate trade off of being Confirmed during the pandemic is the heightened restrictions and adjustments to the ceremony. In comparison to Confirmation events that you may have attended in the past, the May 6 ceremony will be restricted to smaller levels of guests and shorter runtimes for safety. Additionally, the continued uncertainty of the pandemic may have some families rethinking their Confirmation plans. The parish will have additional ceremonies available down the road if families would prefer to wait. We are hopeful for a time when candidates are not limited to a certain number of guests and when there are less risks involved with travel and contact. If families wish to wait until that time for Confirmation, we understand and look forward to celebrating with you then. In this current time, however, we will continue to prioritize safety and uphold the Archdiocesan ceremony policies.

Outstanding Action Items

If you have been contacted by parish staff regarding outstanding Confirmation paperwork, please be sure to submit it as soon as you can. This information is necessary for the Confirmation to take place.

Arrival Time, Ceremony Length, Seating

The church will be opened approximately 15-20 minutes prior to the posted start time of the ceremony. At this time, please begin to enter the church. Weather permitting, please attempt to wait for everyone sitting in your party before entering the church. This will make the seating process more efficient. 

To safely implement social distancing protocols, all seating will be assigned. Candidates are asked to sit closest to the center aisle of the the church. A seating chart has been emailed to candidates and their families ahead of time.

The ceremony will last approximately 40 minutes after the posted start time. Please remember to factor time for post-ceremony photos into your planning.

Anointing with Oils and Responses, Rehearsal Alternative

Since we are not able to have a rehearsal session. Please use this information as a refresher:

During the ceremony, the candidates will be prompted to stand for an anointing and blessing. The candidates and Father Souza will have the following dialogue during the anointing, please note the responses (candidate’s will have a card with this information on it as well):

FATHER SOUZA: (your confirmation name), be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
CANDIDATE: Amen!
FATHER SOUZA: Peace be with you.
CANDIDATE: And with your spirit!

The anointing process will be mindful of social distancing and pandemic safety.

Sponsor Roles and Proxy Sponsors

Sponsors are not required to be present for the ceremony. If a candidate’s sponsor is unable to attend the ceremony, they can still be the candidate’s sponsor. A proxy will be available at the ceremony to stand in for the sponsor but the sponsor on the candidate’s paperwork will still be their official sponsor. A parent or relative can stand-in as the teen’s proxy sponsor. The Archdiocesan allowance of the use of proxy-sponsors is aimed at reducing unecessary travel and reducing COVID-19 risks. Utilizing the flexibility of sponsors in the ceremony, please do not risk breaking travel protocols. It is not necessary to notify the parish that you’ll be using a proxy-sponsor ahead of time.  Sponsors are not required to submit any additional paperwork for the Confirmation ceremony.

Confession

It is customary to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at St. Bridget (Maynard) on Saturday May 1 from 2:30 PM to 3:15 PM. Candidates are also welcome to seek Confession at other locations. The Mass Times website is a helpful tool for finding Confession locations at other locations.

Guest Registration

After reserving a spot at a Confirmation ceremony, you will receive a notification email at the submitted email address with a link to a form you can use to submit the names of your guests for reservation and contact tracing purposes. Each Confirmation candidate will be limited to seven guests (their sponsor and six other guests). If you have not yet registered your guests, you can click here to do so. You will receive a notification email after submitting.

Postponed Candidates from May 2020 and November 2020

For candidates who were scheduled to be Confirmed this past May and November, there should be no additional paperwork needed on your end. Parish staff will be reaching out to you over the next week if there are any loose ends.

Ceremony Live-Streaming

The Confirmation ceremony at Our Lady of Fatima will be live-streamed on the parish website for those who wish to tune in. The ceremony will go live approximately 5 minutes before ceremony start time at http://theascensionparish.com and https://www.facebook.com/TheAscensionParish.

Confirmation Attire, Weather Conditions

Please note, there are no particular colors that must be worn in the ceremony. A white or red outfit is not required for Confirmation. The only part of dress code required is a mask or facial covering. Additionally, be mindful that some windows may be open during the ceremony, due to the pandemic, for proper air circulation. Please dress accordingly.

Ceremony Lector/Readers

Any candidates interested in being a lector and reading during their Confirmation ceremony should contact JT at jguiod@theascensionparish.com.

November 28 Confirmation Ceremonies

We are now in the home stretch, with less than a week until Confirmation day at St. Bridget and Our Lady of Fatima! We have over 100 Conformandi that will receive the Sacrament on November 28. Please utilize this post to help with loose ends and questions that you may have.

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS AND DISCLAIMER
The unfortunate trade off of being Confirmed during the pandemic is the heightened restrictions and adjustments to the ceremony. In comparison to Confirmation events that you may have attended in the past, the November 28 ceremonies will be restricted to smaller levels of guests and shorter runtimes for safety. Additionally, shifting levels of COVID-19 infections being reported across the country may have some families rethinking their Confirmation plans. The parish will have additional ceremonies available down the road if families would prefer to wait. We are hopeful for a time when candidates are not limited to a certain number of guests and when there are less risks involved with travel and contact. If families wish to wait until that time for Confirmation, we understand and look forward to celebrating with you then. In this current time, however, we will continue to prioritize safety and uphold the Archdiocesan ceremony policies. We will not be able to allow Confirmation candidates to bring additional guests other than their three guests (including their sponsor) which they registered ahead of time.   

COVID-19 Recommendations Compliance

The parish will be following the safety guidelines of the CDC and the Archdiocese. This includes the ceremonies being socially distant, using registration to limit group sizes, and collecting contacts for contact tracing. Even with such practices, the parish will not have a way to verify if guests were compliant with such recommendations leading up to, or during, Thanksgiving. We ask in your celebrations and travels, you take the upcoming Confirmation ceremony into mind. There will be other Confirmation ceremonies available later on if your plans don’t fully align with the post-Thanksgiving ceremonies. It is the intention of the parish to have more ceremonies available, particularly in the spring/summer. We will hopefully be in a post-pandemic world by then but will have the flexibility of perhaps having outdoor ceremonies with room for more guests and movement if we are still limited by social distancing.

Arrival Time, Ceremony Length

The church will be opened approximately 15-20 minutes prior to the posted start time of the ceremony. At this time, please begin to enter the church. Weather permitting, please attempt to wait for everyone sitting in your party before entering the church. This will make the seating process more efficient. 

To safely implement social distancing protocols, all seating will be assigned. Upon entering the church candidates and their guests will be guided to their assigned seats. Candidates are asked to sit closest to the center aisle of the the church.

The ceremony will last approximately 40 minutes after the posted start time. Please remember to factor time for post-ceremony photos into your planning. The church will not be open after the ceremony and all attendees are asked to utilize the church’s outdoor spaces for post-ceremony prayer and photos. Unfortunately, the Bishop will not be able to be a part of post-ceremony photos. 

Anointing with Oils and Responses, Rehearsal Alternative

Since we are not able to have a rehearsal session. Please use this information as a refresher:

During the ceremony, the candidates will be prompted to move forward to the altar for an anointing and blessing. The candidate’s sponsors will remain in the pew and will not go forward to the altar with the candidates. The candidates and Bishop Reed will have the following dialogue during the anointing, please note the responses (candidate’s will have a card with this information on it as well):

BISHOP REED: (your confirmation name), be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
CANDIDATE: Amen!
BISHOP REED: Peace be with you.
CANDIDATE: And with your spirit!

The anointing process will be mindful of social distancing and pandemic safety.

Sponsor Roles and Proxy Sponsors

To minimize movement and contact in the ceremony the candidate’s sponsors will not go with them to the altar for their Confirmation blessing. Sponsors are not required to be present for the ceremony. If a teen’s sponsor is unable to attend the ceremony, they can still be the teen’s sponsor. A proxy will be available at the ceremony to stand in for the sponsor but the sponsor on the teen’s paperwork will still be their official sponsor. A parent or relative can stand-in as the teen’s proxy sponsor. The Archdiocesan allowance of the use of proxy-sponsors is aimed at reducing unecessary travel and reducing COVID-19 risks. Utilizing the flexibility of sponsors in the ceremony, please do not risk breaking travel protocols. It is not necessary to notify the parish that you’ll be using a proxy-sponsor ahead of time.  Sponsors are not required to submit any additional paperwork for the Confirmation ceremony.

Guest Registration

After reserving a spot at a Confirmation ceremony, you will receive a notification email at the submitted email address with a link to a form you can use to submit the names of your guests for reservation and contact tracing purposes. In accordance with Archdiocesan safety guidelines, each Confirmation candidate will be limited to three guests (their sponsor and two other guests). If you have not yet registered your guests, you can use the following links to submit the names of your guests. For St. Bridget Confirmation candidates, click here. For Our Lady of Fatima, Confirmation candidates, click here. You will receive a notification email after submitting.

Postponed Candidates from May 2020

For candidates who were scheduled to be Confirmed this past May, there should be no additional paperwork needed on your end. Parish staff will be reaching out to you over the next week if there are any loose ends.

Action Items and Paperwork for Current Students

In addition to reserving a spot for Confirmation, currently enrolled candidates (typically grade 10 students) have a few action items which must be completed. These are the submission of previous sacrament details, selection of a sponsor, and selection of a Confirmation name. Candidates who have not done so may complete these action items electronically using the grade 10 action item links at https://lifeteenfatima.com/actionitems/. After submission, the email address used will receive a notification email. Please note, writing your Conformation name and sponsor name into one of your modules instead of filling out the forms means that that you have not yet submitted the forms. Some candidates at St. Bridget may have submitted these items on a paper form instead of electronically. Parish staff will be reaching out over the next week to candidates that are missing these items. 

Confirmation Check-In Meetings

If you were not able to schedule a Confirmation check-in meeting with JT due to timing, please thoroughly review the other information on this post. The check-in meetings are generally the time for candidates to have their paperwork reviewed and be given the “all clear” for being on track for Confirmation. This year’s meetings also included discussions of program changes due to the pandemic. This included that the current 10th grade students would not be having a Confirmation project this year.

Ceremony Live-Streaming

The Confirmation ceremonies at Our Lady of Fatima will be livestreamed on the parish website for those who wish to tune in. Unfortunately, at this time, we do not have the technology for live-streaming at St. Bridget. 

Confirmation Attire & Weather Conditions

Please note, there are no particular colors that must be worn in the ceremony. A white or red outfit is not required for Confirmation. The only part of dress code required is a mask or facial covering. Additionally, be mindful that some windows may be open during the ceremony, due to the pandemic, for proper air circulation. Please dress accordingly.

Ceremony Lector/Reader

Any candidates interested in being a lector and reading during their Confirmation ceremony should contact JT at jt@fatimasudbury.org.

Grade 10 Confirmation Program – Fall 2020

Registration

If you are not yet enrolled for the 2020-2021 faith formation program, please utilize the online Faith Formation Registration Form or call the parish directly at (978) 443-2647.


Online Fall Semester

While Life Teen is typically an in-person, on-site experience, the 2020-2021 Confirmation program has been modified in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire fall 2020 curriculum will be conducted remotely. Instead of meeting through the parish’s Life Teen Life Nights, online materials will be regularly, and readily, available. The online modules will utilize the parish message series, Confirmation curriculum, and materials adapted from the previously-scheduled in-person Life Nights. The online modules will typically contain multimedia materials to learn from and include a written/discussion component to be submitted by the Confirmation student. As we progress through the semester, we will adjust and plan the spring semester accordingly.


Confirmation Ceremony Dates

Most 10th grade Confirmation students were initially scheduled to be Confirmed on November 28, 2020. We still anticipate that these students will be confirmed around that time but expect that multiple ceremonies will be needed to incorporate social distancing and other safety measures. After coordinating with the Archdiocese of Boston, we will have more information on ceremony dates and guest attendance procedures. 


Fall 2020 Program Overview and Action Items (Grade 10)

Students who entered the program in fall 2019 are preparing to be Confirmed in the fall of 2020. Please review the program overview and action items below.

1. Parent/Guardian must fill out the Sacraments Checklist for Candidate
In order to be Confirmed, a candidate’s previous Sacraments of Baptism and First Holy Communion must be verified. Submitting this information as soon as possible prevents any last-minute hurdles leading up to Confirmation. This form must be completed by October 2, 2020.

2. Candidate must select a Sponsor
Each confirmation candidate much choose a sponsor for their Confirmation. The sponsor must be a Confirmed Catholic, in good standing with the Church, and cannot be the candidate’s parent. A sponsor must be selected, and this form must be completed, by October 2, 2020. Be sure to review the “Role of Sponsor” guide during your selection process.

3. Candidate must select a Confirmation Name
Each Candidate must select a Confirmation Name. This name must be the name of a Saint in the Church. This step must be completed by October 30, 2020.

4.Grade 10 candidates should achieve at least 4 credit points by by November 28, 2020.
All Confirmation-related events are assigned a value of credit points. All Confirmation candidates for November 2020 should achieve at least 4 confirmation points within the Fall semester by November 28, 2020 to be on track for Confirmation.


Fall 2020 Online Module Schedule (Grade10)

To be on track for Confirmation, all tenth grade students should achieve at least 4 credit points by November 28, 2020.

DateEventCredit Points
Sunday, September 13, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 20, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 27, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 4, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 18, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 25, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 1, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 8, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 22, 2020Online Materials Posted1

Life Teen Fatima has event opportunities outside of the Confirmation program. Parish staff are working to make events available that have social distancing and other safety measures. Be sure to check out our Events Calendar for all of the current Life Teen happenings!


Additional Information

Be sure to visit the Confirmation Program Overview Page for more information and some program FAQ.

Grade 9 Confirmation Program – Fall 2020

Registration

If you are not yet enrolled for the 2020-2021 faith formation program, please utilize the online Faith Formation Registration Form or call the parish directly at (978) 443-2647.


Online Fall Semester

While Life Teen is typically an in-person, on-site experience, the 2020-2021 Confirmation program has been modified in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire fall 2020 curriculum will be conducted remotely. Instead of meeting through the parish’s Life Teen Life Nights, online materials will be regularly, and readily, available. The online modules will utilize the parish message series, Confirmation curriculum, and materials adapted from the previously-scheduled in-person Life Nights. The online modules will typically contain multimedia materials to learn from and include a written/discussion component to be submitted by the Confirmation student. As we progress through the semester, we will adjust and plan the spring semester accordingly.


Fall 2020 Program Overview and Action Items (Grade 9)

Students entering the program in fall 2020 will be Confirmed in the fall of 2021. Please review the program overview and action items below.

1. Entering Students must fill out the New Student Information Form
The form helps us learn more about our incoming students and better serve them. Please fill this form out as soon as possible.

2. Schedule a Spring 2021 Confirmation check-in with JT
In these check-ins, JT and the candidate will a develop a Confirmation service project to complete over the next two years. If any of the available times do not work, please don’t hesitate to contact JT to schedule a more convenient option. Some meetings slots are for in-person sessions and some slots are for video chat sessions.

3. Grade 9 students should achieve at least 6 credit points by December 13, 2020  and an additional 6 credit points by May 8, 2021 
All Confirmation-related online materials and events are assigned a value of credit points. All Confirmation candidates for November 2021 should achieve at least 6 credit points within the Fall semester by December 13, 2020 and an additional 6 credit points in the Spring semester by May 8, 2021 to be on track for Confirmation.

4. Grade 9 Students must attend a Confirmation Day-Retreat at the end of the academic year
At the end of the spring semester, the class will have a required day-retreat.


Fall 2020 Online Module Schedule (Grade 9)

To be on track for Confirmation, all ninth grade students should achieve at least 6 credit points by December 13, 2020.

DateEventCredit Points
Sunday, September 13, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 20, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, September 27, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 4, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 18, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, October 25, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 1, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 8, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, November 22, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, December 6, 2020Online Materials Posted1
Sunday, December 13, 2020Online Materials Posted1

Life Teen Fatima has event opportunities outside of the Confirmation program. Parish staff are working to make events available that have social distancing and other safety measures. Be sure to check out our Events Calendar for all of the current Life Teen happenings!


Additional Information

Be sure to visit the Confirmation Program Overview Page for more information, a preview of the Grade 10 Confirmation Program, and some program FAQ.

Postponed Spring 2020 Confirmation Update

Remaining Students from Spring 2020

There are still some Confirmation candidates from St. Bridget and Our Lady of Fatima that were originally scheduled to be Confirmed in May 2020 and have not done so.

Both parishes will be holding Confirmation ceremonies on Saturday, November 28, 2020. All candidates are encouraged to learn more and register consider at https://lifeteenfatima.com/confirmationfall2020/.

If the fall timing does not meet where your family is at in these very uncertain times, it is very understandable. More opportunities for Confirmation will be available down the road. 


Confirmation Day at St. Anselm, St. Bridget, and Our Lady of Fatima

Confirmation day is finally here! Congratulations to all of our candidates! The drop-downs below have some helpful Confirmation day reminders.

Arrival Time, Ceremony Length

The church will be opened 20 minutes prior to the posted start time of the ceremony. At this time please begin to enter the church. Weather permitting, please attempt to wait for everyone sitting in your pew before entering the church. This will make the seating process more efficient. Guests should note the name of the Confirmation candidate they are sharing a pew with while being seated. 

The ceremony should last approximately 1 hour after the posted start time. Please remember to factor time for post-ceremony photos into your planing. The church will not be open after the ceremony and all attendees are asked to utilize the the church’s outdoor spaces for post-ceremony prayer and photos.

Seating Assignments

To safely implement social distancing protocols, all seating will be assigned. Seating assignments are determined by group size, flow of ceremony, and timing of reservation. Upon entering the Church you will be guided to your assigned pew. Confirmation Candidates are asked to sit closest to the center aisle of the the church. The candidate’s sponsor (or proxy standing in for the sponsor should sit next to the Confirmation candidate).

Anointing with Oils and Responses

Since we were not able to have a rehearsal session. Please use this information as a refresher:

During the ceremony, Father Souza, will come to each candidate’s pew for an anointing and blessing. When it is your turn, please step in the center aisle with your sponsor or stand-in. Your sponsor or stand-in will display your Confirmation name to Father Souza. You and Father Souza will have the following dialogue during the anointing, please note your responses:

FATHER SOUZA: (your confirmation name), be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
YOU: Amen!
FATHER SOUZA: Peace be with you.
YOU: And with your spirit!

The anointing process will be mindful of social distancing and pandemic safety.

Sponsors and Stand-Ins

Just a reminder that sponsors are not required to be present for the ceremony. If a teen’s sponsor is unable to attend the ceremony, they can still be the teen’s sponsor. A proxy will be available at the ceremony to stand in for the sponsor but the sponsor on the teen’s paperwork will still be their official sponsor. A parent or relative can stand-in as the teen’s proxy sponsor.    

Photos

A church photographer will be present to capture memories during the ceremony, this includes the anointing and blessing of each candidate. Weather permitting, there will also be opportunities for for post-ceremony photos with the church photographer outside as well.

Weather Conditions

Please remember that due to the pandemic, the church will not be able to run any air conditioning during the ceremony. This is to prevent the recirculation of air between guests. Church windows will be opened. Please dress accordingly to the weather conditions.

Thank you so much to our candidates and all of their supporters! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions or concerns. We are looking forward to seeing you at Confirmation!

March 2020 Life Teen Updates and Summary

It was great to see a combination of LS&OLF pride on display at the boys hockey playoff game. Go Warriors! Go Life Teen!

UPDATE 3/21/20: Contingency Schedule In Place
The Life Teen Fatima Contingency plan is is now in place. For more information, please visit https://lifeteenfatima.com/contingency.

UPDATE 3/11/20: Our Lady of Fatima COVID-19 Proactive Policy
Please note, a parish wide email went out regarding scheduling changes related to Our Lady of Fatima’s COVID-19 Prevention Program. If you did not receive this email, you can view it by clicking here. Given the increasing concern surrounding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the parish has deemed it prudent to put all of our faith formation programs on a two week hiatus while we assess the situation further. This includes:

  • High School Spring Overnight in Maine (3/13-3/15)
  • High School Open Life House (3/15)
  • Movie Night at Maynard Fine Arts Theatre (3/16)
  • Pizza & Prayer (3/17)
  • 10th Grade Confirmation Retreat (3/21)
  • High School Life Night (3/22)
  • Pizza & Prayer (3/24)
  • NOTE: Any scheduled Confirmation check-ins during this time period will not happen in person, we will attempt to make these happen via phone.

We will attempt to reschedule these events in the future if possible. For now, the top priority is safety.

MAINE SPRING RETREAT (UPDATED 3/10/20: Canceled)
This event is NOT the same as the Grade 10 Confirmation Retreat (see above)

With the growing concern over Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States, and with the caution recommended by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, steps are being taken locally to minimize unnecessary travel and contact. With an overabundance of caution, we have determined it would be the safest call to not hold our Spring Retreat this weekend. It is upsetting to have to make this call, our team has been working hard to create a memorable experience on retreat. That hard work, however, is from a commitment to our teens and the best commitment we can make is playing is safe and minimizing any unnecessary risks.

While no one on the trip would is considered to be in an at-risk category for fighting off COVID-19, the transportation and intimate setting of the retreat would add steps of uncertainty if anyone began showing symptoms on the trip. Compared to a Life Night or Pizza & Prayer session, hosted locally, where quarantine and response could be addressed immediately if someone were to show COVID-19 symptoms, the proximity from home is just too for us to be able to play it safe this weekend.

On a personal level, I am really disappointed that we will not be able to dive deeper in our faith this weekend. The giant stride of confidence shown by all the teens to sign up for their first retreat was a remarkable sign of the spiritual commitment. I’m sorry we won’t be able to explore that this weekend. We will be sure to explore all workaround options and possible dates in the future where we can make this retreat happen down the road.

Any payments made towards this event will be returned. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or follow up.

Confirmation Action Items: 10th grade students and parents, if you have not submitted your Confirmation action items, please do so ASAP. I will be sending individual reminders out later this week for outstanding items. To see the Confirmation action items, visit https://lifeteenfatima.com/confirmation/.

March 2020 Summary 
With the safety schedule notices posted above, the March 2020 schedule has been greatly reduced. Please use the Life Teen Fatima temporary contingency plan for updates as well as the events calendar We will attempt to reschedule canceled events when possible, additionally we will arrange to have curriculum materials available online if needed.

CHWC 2018 Reflection

by Deacon John Pepi
St Bridget, Maynard

On July 14, 2018, I embarked on the 18 hour bus ride to the Nashville, Tennessee Catholic Heart Work Camp Mission along with 4 adult chaperones and 30 teens from our collaborative. I expected the week to be a good experience, but I never expected it to be one of the most powerful journeys of my lifetime.

I have been in ministry as a deacon for nearly 25 years, and have been privileged to experience many great moments: working with children, teens, the elderly, the homebound, and the poor; assisting with the sacraments of Eucharist, Baptism, and Matrimony; leading prayer services, and so on. Nothing can take away from those moments. But I must say that the Mission trip to Nashville was the most rewarding and blessed event I have ever experienced.

So much happened at the Mission work camp; early rise, prayer, and daily Mass; morning and afternoon work assisting the needy; evening music with 250 energetic teens; more prayer, Adoration, and reflection; and late night lights out in preparation for the next day. When I ask myself why these days and nights were so awesome, the answer is simple: seeing the face of God in the teens who never stopped working, and seeing the face of God in those whom they served. Being holy means to live a life of prayer and service; this week was an example of holiness. While everyone’s personal experience may have been different, it was all the same – the love of Jesus in the face and response of his people.

Watching the teens dive in and work, pray, reflect (and dance!) was remarkable. There was nary a complaint about cold showers, lack of sleep, or hard and long work in hot and humid conditions. Rather, in my particular work group with eight teens, I witnessed the unrelenting, overwhelming, never-ending love of God in their ethic, words, and actions. Our task was to clean 25 apartments of kind residents who were for the most part living in unimaginable squalor and conditions. And yet, each teen spoke on how the people they helped were a blessing to them. Of equal importance, each resident who was helped spoke on how the teens who served them had blessed them. Loving and suffering go hand in hand.

One of the residents whom the teens assisted traveled ten miles to the camp, in spite of her physical disability, and gave witness to our entire group, summing up the experience nicely. She spoke eloquently: “I knew you boys and girls had to be Christian; I could see it in the joy of your faces, in how you dove in to clean our refrigerators, and stoves, and floors, and windows; and in the love you showed in your hearts. I am the one who was blessed, I will never forget you; you gave me strength and hope forever.”

Seeing the love and joy of the teens, watching their enthusiasm in song and their respect in prayer, listening to their reflections, and witnessing their interaction with other teens from across the country as well as with those whom they served was remarkable; I am strengthened by their spirit; I am blessed and privileged to know them, and to have once again met the Lord in them and in those whom we served. I will never be the same. Deacon

John Pepi