Beyond the Jargon of “Outreach”

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

Holy Family has long prioritized “outreach.” We consistently go beyond our campus walls into our surrounding communities and sometimes even abroad. And when we go beyond our walls, we believe we’re following where our Lord Jesus has already gone: to be with the poor, lonely, sick, and imprisoned. Outreach matters in this parish.

But what is “outreach?” A buzzword? Just jargon? “Outreach” is certainly a bit abstract and perhaps a bit vague. So what is it… and why do we do it? Lots of people volunteer or earn service hours. So why do we as a church believe that our outreach has anything to do with following Jesus – with being Christians?

Over the next few months, Holy Family’s youth will have an opportunity to explore these questions through classroom discussions and hands-on experience:

Middle School Sunday School is in the middle of a six week exploration of outreach.  Diane Steinhaus launched the discussion in week 1 with some big questions about outreach (“What is outreach? Why do it?) and in the weeks to come various members of Holy Family will visit the class to share stories and pictures about their work with Habitat for Humanity, Prison Ministry, South Sudan, and more.

Between now and May, middle and high school youth will also have the opportunity to visit Carolina Meadows and the Goodwill Farm.  These two sites were chosen by youth preparing for Confirmation through Youth Journey in Faith.  At the farm, youth will work in a garden that provides food for the poor, and at Carolina Meadows youth will teach residents basic computer/internet skill for keeping in touch with their families (i.e. Skyping).

In all this, pray that “outreach” becomes a concrete and tangible way in which our youth learn to follow Jesus.

The Mystery of the Eucharist

The third quarter of Youth Journey in Faith (yJIF) – our parish Confirmation class for youth – focuses our attention on the mystery of the Eucharist.  By this point in their lives, our youth have consumed a lot of Eucharistic bread and wine.  They can repeat back the words the priest says; they know when the priests bow and when Paula rings the Sanctus bells (and that she loves ringing them!); they’ve brought forward the bread and wine as acolytes and some of them have even helped make bread at home.

Lots of Eucharist in their lives, but how does any of this help them learn to follow Jesus?  Why does Paula ring those Sanctus bells?  Why does “Holy, Holy, Holy” show up in Eucharistic prayers A, B, C, and D?  What does it mean that we “lift up our hearts”?  Did Jesus really mean that the bread and wine were his body and blood… Do we really eat Jesus each week or is this a symbolic act?  And, why do the servers need to finish off the wine left over in the cup?  Lots of Eucharist in our youths’ lives and lots of fruitful questions.

And the third quarter of yJIF is replete with rich opportunities to reflect upon these questions.  We consider a short piece written by former seminarian Fr. Jonathan Melton called, “A Conversation with Bread and Wine.”  One of our clergy will come help us explore the “Whys” behind our Eucharistic actions and language, like “lift up your hearts” and our use of wine (and not grape soda).  We’ll work with the Altar Guild one morning to prepare the altar for the 11:05 liturgy.  And we’ll consider how Rublev’s famous icon of the Holy Trinity (with a chalice near the center) helps us understand what happens to us each Sunday as we share in the Eucharist at Holy Family.