On August 18-20, Manolito Jaldon, Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation at St. Brendan Parish, and Ben Gerigk, Catechist and Aspirant to the Priesthood, attended the annual Life Teen Training Conference held in Boerne, Texas. Life Teen is a Catholic ministry in over 1,800 parishes and 31 countries with a mission of leading teens closer to Christ. Here is the story of their trip.
Ben Gerigk: It was amazing to see more than 300 youth ministers from across the country come together with a common purpose: to learn new ideas on how to involve teens in the liturgy, teach them to be missionaries for Christ, and reach the youth through social media. Not only did this training give us general lessons on how to kick off or strengthen youth ministry programs in our respective parishes, but also helped us to remember that we must be authentic to teens as good role models and remember that we are serving them and serving Christ. We returned home equipped with resources and lessons on how to serve our youth. As this Life Teen program is formed here at Saint Brendan, I pray that we remember the teens who need a place here, in our cozy and welcoming parish, to connect with Christ and with other teens.
Manolito Jaldon: At the core of Life Teen’s mission is relational ministry. Through this ministry, the Church is reaching out to a new generation of Catholics, known as Generation Z. These are teenagers born after 9/11, who belong to a screen-based culture so advanced that they collectively post 6000 Tweets and 800 Instagram posts, and view 70,000 videos on YouTube, in one second! Our teenagers are digital natives, who will define our culture by the year 2020.
In order to reach them with the immense joy of the Gospel that this world cannot give, we must meet them in the digital domain. Yet, despite their obsessions with electronics, these teenagers still long for mentors who are authentically real and can lead them to Jesus.
I was convicted once again of this need, as I worshiped God among 300 youth leaders and fifty teenagers. We sang with our whole hearts and with full voice during Eucharistic Adoration. I saw their longing manifested. I witnessed the authentic joy they expressed in being with the Lord. There is a spirit of opportunity that is among us!
I ask for your help to launch a Life Teen Ministry in our parish for our post-Confirmation and high school teens. I have a specific need to form a core team that is representative of our parish demographic. I need a team who can make a weekly commitment for six months beginning in November, in order to launch Life Teen Ministry in January 2018. You may say that you’re not qualified, but if you love Jesus and love teens, you are qualified. I’ll accompany you in doing the rest. We need to attend to this need, for without youth our Church has no future. Let’s do it together!
At the request of Archbishop Cordileone and His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop for approximately 70 Greek Orthodox Churches here on the West Coast, Saint Brendan Parish is pleased to welcome to our rectory Father Evlogios Champas, who will be living with us for one year. His letter of introduction is below:
I wish to sincerely thank all of you for allowing me the opportunity to be a guest in your community this year. Father Roger and Lisa Roselund, along with everyone that resides at St. Brendan’s, have welcomed me so warmly and have made my transition to San Francisco a very easy one.
I was born in Cyprus and grew up in the Church. Cyprus is an Orthodox Christian country where all of the Churches are Greek Orthodox. After graduating high school, I performed my mandatory military service. I then entered an ecclesiastical school to begin my seminary training and later studied theology at the University of Thessaloniki in Greece. Upon my graduation, I went to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to thank God for everything He had given me in life, and to pray about my future path in the Church. During my visit I had the blessing of meeting the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos, who asked me if I would like to be ordained in Jerusalem and become a member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Tomb. I was very honored by this and immediately accepted His Beatitude’s invitation. Shortly after my ordination I was elected by the Synod to be the Archdeacon of the Patriarch. In this capacity, I have been blessed with meeting Orthodox Christians from all over the world.
I was blessed to participate in the peace prayer in the Vatican gardens in June 2014, which brought together the then-Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. On that particular occasion, as well as in Jerusalem and during the missionary travels when I accompanied high church officials, I was faced with the challenge of interacting with Orthodox Christians from all over the world. This interaction, invariably, requires a mastery of English.
I feel very much connected, in my heart and my soul, to theology – both as a field of studies and as an embodied practice, in the service of God and of the faithful. I am also refining my understanding of the social issues faced by the Church, so I will be able to take part in the ecumenical dialogues that aim to bring peace and spiritual prosperity to the world.
In order to improve my English, last year I began a master’s program at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. I am now pleased to attend advanced English classes here in San Francisco and to serve as a deacon to His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos.
It is a great honor for me to stay here in the United States for another year, and to be able to live in such a beautiful community like Saint Brendan’s together with all of you. I look forward to meeting all of you.