Voices is open to high school students and adult leaders who want to explore their Faith in fun and unique ways. The variety of events and activities we do help people to develop and strengthen what we call our Faith Journey, while nurturing and growing each individual’s gifts and talents. This is achieved by offering programs and activities that give participants a plethora of ways to experience their Faith, while also providing a balanced approach to the many ways we can see God working in our every day lives. Taking hold of your Faith begins when you make the commitment to want to strengthen it, and more importantly, nurture your relationship with Christ. Voices is about each individual taking responsibility for where they want their Faith relationship to go. VOICES is ultimately a choice of your free will, with no one forcing you to attend. This makes for an incredibly dynamic group because it is up to you to choose and decide what activities you would like to participate in. The way we look at it, we help to provide the vehicle that takes us on our incredible journeys, but it is God who is our captain and pilot. Our program is broken into the following four categories with examples of some of the events we do. SOCIALS - Opportunities to have fun, relax and meet new people while learning about what makes each of us special and unique. Weekly Drop-In Day & Open Gym, Hayrides, Dances, Lock-Ins, Ski Trips, Bingo, Roller Skating. SERVICE - Opportunities to reach out to our immediate community and around the world as we give of service to those less fortunate. Community House Painting Projects, Church Fundraisers, Retirement Home Visits, Food Drives, Ministers of the Eucharistic, Peer Ministry. FAITH - Opportunities to strengthen and explore our Faith Journey and Catholic identities through the Bible and Scripture. Scripture Study, Teen Mass, Youth Rallies, Teen Choir, National Catholic Youth Celebrations. DISCUSSION - Opportunities to explore and discuss current themes and topics while tying the messages God gives us each day into our lives. Discussion & Topic Nights, Guest Speakers, Weekend Retreats. Here is a great article from my friend Frank Mercandante, director and creator of “Cultivation Ministries” that explains so much about why teens are so important to not only the future of our church...but the hear and now. Church As Choice Posted by: Frank Mercadante  /  Tags: Millennials While growing up, I remember having two basic choices on Sunday morning. I could choose to go to church, or, I could choose to go to hell. Church seemed the better option to me. Thoughts like these are hardly a consideration for teens today (and many adults, really). Over the past several posts, I have been focusing on some of the characteristics of the present day teens, who are a part of the American generation known as the Millennials. In this post, I want to talk about the fact that young people’s lives are rooted in a culture of personal choice. From childhood they have chosen between soccer and swimming, gymnastics and dance. Life is full of plentiful options. Most teens have more options than time. Their greatest challenge is choosing between many positive activities.  (Gone are the days when we would lament, “If only we could provide teens with something positive to do.”) Young people see church as one of many choices. They are swayed little by obligatory demands to attend and seem to be somewhat immune to Catholic guilt. If teens do not see Mass as having any pragmatic value (I feel closer to God, I feel a part of the community, or it gives me practical direction for life), then they may choose not to go (when they have the choice). So, what does motivate teens to choose to be a part of their church? In the book Choosing Church, Carol Lytch extensively researched this question. She says, “Congregations that attract large numbers of youth do so by offering teens a sense of belonging that ties them into the fellowship of their church, a sense of the comprehensive meaning of the whole life that is based in religious truth, and opportunities to develop various competencies that assist them as they cross the threshold into adult roles and institutions. It is these fundamental conditions of human nature—belonging, believing, and achieving competence – that are addressed when teens attention is ‘grabbed’. Churches catch them on three hooks: a sense of belonging, a sense of meaning, and opportunities to develop competence.” More than ever, building a great youth ministry is intimately tied to building a great parish. We are in the realm of  “third generation Catholic youth ministry”. We cannot simply focus on building great youth programs. Instead, we must work in collaboration to grow great parishes that possess a youth ministry culture. If church is a choice in life, we must learn how to make it essential for life.

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