Taking Shape: an Episcopal Youth Community

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

You might be under the impression that youth at Holy Family “attend EYC,” or that we “have EYC” on Sunday evenings, or that I – the Youth Minister – “run EYC.”  While we say these sorts of things often enough, the best way to describe the youth activities at Holy Family is that we are “becoming an EYC – an Episcopal Youth Community.”

One of the great joys we experience each year is welcoming in new youth and teaching them the rhythms of our life together.  Some of these rhythms are a bit like a schedule: We play, we talk, we pray; we eat, we worship.  Some of these rhythms are ways we try to be together: we try to love one another; we ask and receive forgiveness; all visible cell phones get eaten by our cell phone monster; we stay at the table until the meal ends; we clean up our dishes and the Parish Hall.  Returning youth just seem to pick-up right where we left of from last year.  For the new youth, it’s all strange, new and exciting… but now even in week two, we begin to see them catching the rhythm.  They’re learning the rhythm of our common life and a rhythm through which God is shaping us as an EYC.

And yet, this is no mere repeat of last year, for the people are not quite the same.  We worship like last year, but this year a new youth worship leader – Jacob – is sharing his gifts and enriching our worship time.  We have “mentors” like last year, but this year 12th graders Eli and Savannah join our mentor team and the middle schoolers are curious and buzzing about their presence in Jr. EYC.  We always have new youth, but this year Sr. EYC receives a bunch of new 9th graders and Jr. EYC is piled high with new 6th graders, all jazzed to be entering the next phase.  All new arrangements of people, so no “givens” for how it will all go.  All new arrangements of people, so new friendships beginning to form.  All new arrangements of people, so no chance of just cruising on autopilot along last year’s course.

And so an “EYC” is taking shaping.  If you’re of age, join us.  Otherwise, please pray that among this group of people the youth of our parish will receive the love of Christ, hear Christ’s call upon their lives, and respond to both in simple and faithful ways.

Have You Heard?

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

If you haven’t heard yet, I can’t blame you.  In fact, it’s likely my fault the word hasn’t gotten out yet.  But hear now: the Youth Library is now up and running in Holy Family’ Parish House.  And the collection of books, photo albums from past EYC years, and audio/visual stuff is growing!

What’s in the Library?  Fiction and Non-Fiction; living and dead authors; some books you could read in a day; some books that will stretch even the brightest of you.  But it’s all good and it’s all especially select with Holy Family youth in mind!

Love to read?  Stop by and find something to check out.

A few of my favorites:

  • C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters
  • Flannery O’Conner, A Good Man is Hard to Find
  • Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together


The Way of Life

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

Our baptismal font is shaped like a cross.  In our baptism we’re marked with a cross on our forehead.  And, we’re always making the “sign of our cross” upon our head, belly, and chest.

Cross, cross, cross: and yet, it’s so easy it is to forget that following Jesus will cost us something.

Sacrificing ourselves for something is common, though.  We sacrifice sleep to finish our work.  We sacrifice dinner with our families for play practice, swim practice, or soccer practice.  We sacrifice fun things now so we’re successful in the future.

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice: but for whom are we sacrificing?

Here’s one mystery of our baptism: that the baptismal waters of death are also the womb of life.   As Jesus said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Throughout this year, small groups of youth and adults from Holy Family will visit an Episcopal community in Durham called the Community of the Franciscan Way.  These Christians have sacrificed themselves in order to live with those who would otherwise be homeless.  They’ve committed themselves to a life of prayer, work, and friendship with the poor.  And here’s the mystery: in sacrificing themselves for Christ and for those whom Christ loves – the poor, they have discovered true life.

So, I invite you to come and sacrifice yourself for Christ and for those whom Christ loves.  We’ll visit, eat with this community, and help them take care of their house of hospitality.  Space is limited, so contact Paul Cizek (pcizek@chfnc.net) or Wren Blessing (wblessing@chfnc.net) to come along.  Perhaps we too will discover that in losing our lives for Christ’s sake, we’ll find true life.

Saturday, Dec. 1 (8a – 12:30)

Monday, January 21st (7a – 12 noon)

Saturday,  February 9 (8a – 12:30)

Saturday, March 2 (8a – 12:30)