Youth Ministry Office Calendar

YM CalendarVisiting Good Shepherd Catholic Parish in Fort Worth, TX I found all three of the youth ministers (yes...three!) have these amazingly huge year calendars on their wall in their offices. Made out of a sheet of dry-erase material screwed into the wall (I'm guessing you can find this stuff at Lowes) they used some electrical tape and printed labels for the months and dates. I love this idea because it helps you see the entire year in context for planning youth group nights, a semester curriculum, large events, deadlines for paperwork, and meetings in a way that constantly reminds you of the bigger picture. The summer is coming up and as I transition to a new youth ministry position at a different parish, I'm starting to think about how best to plan a year in a way that I will actually stick to. In the past I've sat down and planned out great youth nights, awesome events and activities, and goals that I want to accomplish, only to throw out the entire plan two months in.

How do you plan out your school year and make sure you stick to the plan? I'd love to hear from you and I reply to every email and comment.

Part of the Professional Youth Minister Series:

Grace builds on nature. So if you are paralyzed by 347 emails you haven’t read, find yourself despairingly browsing Facebook for most of the day, haven't had a good idea in weeks, lack vision in your youth ministry, or just need some motivation to get back to work, welcome to the club. This series is about working on our nature and becoming a professional youth minister so all that grace has room to build. Check out all the posts in this series by clicking here.

Strange Notions: Atheist and Catholic Conversations

Strange Notions

 You need to know about the launching of a new website, Strange Notions, spearheaded by Brandon Vogt who knows a thing or two about "new" media and the new evangelization. (Check out his book here: The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet)

After St. Paul preaches in the Areopagus in Athens to the intellectual elite, they respond saying "May we learn what this new teaching is that you speak of? You bring some strange notions to our ears, we should like to know what these things mean." (Acts 17:19-20)


With a website trailer like that, the adrenaline is already flowing just at the idea of a site that sets out to bring intellectual conversations between atheists and Catholics to an internet in dire need of it. is designed to be the central place of dialogue online between Catholics and atheists.

Its implicit goal is to bring non-Catholics to faith--especially followers of the so-called New Atheism. As a 'digital Areopagus', the site will include intelligent articles, compelling video, and rich discussion through its comment boxes.

The site is laid out in blog post format, with by-topic articles from a team of contributors presumably written with an atheist audience in mind.

The list of main contributors for the site is world class, with some of the best of the best as far as Catholic writers and thinkers go. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best lineups I've ever seen for a Catholic website of this nature.

I also like the extensive recommended books list that doesn't pull punches and is intellectually demanding.

I'm very interested to be watching this site unfold and participating in the conversations.

I do wonder, however, what will draw intelligent atheists to this site and the conversations and not just your normal trolls that lurk on Catholic websites. It would be great to see this website reach out to atheist bloggers and speakers to engage them in open dialogue in a way that goes beyond just the comment box. To have a thinking atheist write a response or article defending his position would add to the website's claim to be an open forum of reason and dialogue. Maybe even a HuffPoLive-esque Google Hangout would work well.

This is a site to watch and get involved with, learn a thing or two, and even send to your skeptical atheist friends challenging them to engage in dialogue with the authors and thinkers. Pray for this "digital areopagus", because it is a much needed space in the mission territory of the internet.

The Brains Behind It All:

Brandon Vogt

Brandon Vogt is an award-winning author, blogger, in speaker. In 2011 he released his first book titled The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet (Our Sunday Visitor). The book includes a Foreword by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, an Afterword by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and was endorsed by a several other cardinals, bishops, and leading Catholic thinkers.

Since then he’s established himself as an expert on Catholic new media and in May 2011, Vatican officials invited him to Rome to discuss social media. At the meeting, Archbishop Claudio Celli explained that the Church's mission today is to "open a conversation with the world." That's precisely what is designed to do.

Confessions of Cultural Heretics

brianburke I am overjoyed to introduce a wonderful and saintly married couple and their blog "Confessions of Cultural Heretics".

My wife and I first met the Burkes at a Franciscan University alumni meetup in Toledo.  We moved to a town not knowing anyone and were desperate to find Catholic community.  Brian (it's Dr. Brian now right?) and Joanna gave us more than just community and fellowship, but also lots of good advice.  Their blog is just what we experienced sitting in their living room: the experiences of a family striving to be holy.

Check out Dr. Brian and Joanna on their blog that is one part homemade practical advice for living the good Catholic family life and one part shining light of human dignity from the medical field.

Bob Rice: "How the Catechism Made Me Catholic"

Here is a witness from Bob Rice about how his life was changed by reading and praying through the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"I remember looking down and seeing blood on my hands. My head was still spinning from the line of cocaine that I snorted in the bathroom. The prostitute I just had sex with was face down on the bed, murdered. Did I do it? I couldn’t remember. I heard sirens outside and footsteps running up the stairs to my apartment. That was the moment that I realized I needed a Savior. I needed Jesus.

Okay, none of that is true."

"Truth be told, I have a very boring conversion story: I always loved Jesus. And then I loved Him more.

I was the good kid. Never drank. Never did drugs. Knew to save sex for marriage. In fact, I lived in fear of letting others down: my parents, my teachers, or even God. I was a straight A student and prayed every night.

So it might not be a surprise when I tell you that one of the most exciting moments in my conversion is when I did something that many consider boring:

I read the Catechism."

-->Read the rest of the article here, and then go read the Catechism.<--

Two practical takeaways from his post:

+     If the Catechism seems overwhelming, try committing to reading one "In Brief" summary at the end of each section in the Catechism every day.

+     If you need an easy place to start, the fourth pillar of the Catechism on prayer is a good place.


Bob was my professor for many many classes while I attended Franciscan University, and I have to thank him for forming me as a Catholic, catechist, and youth minister, (and actually as a father too) through his deep love for Jesus, his witness as a father, and his love for the Catholic Church.  Maybe one day I will write a post about all the ways he has so tremendously impacted me, but it would be too sappy.

Thanks Bob.

Dr. Brant Pitre Talk on the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist


How would ancient Jews have understood the Eucharist?

This mind blowing talk by Dr. Brant Pitre on the Jewish roots of the Eucharist answers that question.  Prepare to have your little Catholic brain explode - you'll never look at the Eucharist the same again.

Just a little teaser for you as I read and write a super-review of his book "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist".