Young adults invited to service opportunity at Steubenville of the Rockies

Moira Cullings

The Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries is seeking young adults for a volunteer opportunity during the annual Steubenville of the Rockies conference this June.

“This is a way to invite young adults into a greater leadership role in the Church and contrast the whole consumer attitude with giving,” said Mary McGeehan, Young Adult Ministry Specialist for the Archdiocese of Denver.

“We want you here, we want you to serve with us,” she said. “You’re invited to still participate and serve, just in a different way as you mature in your faith.”

The volunteer group, called Mercy Squad, will participate in a pre-conference retreat from June 19-21, and then take on their volunteer tasks during the conference from June 21-23.

The pre-conference retreat will include opportunities for adoration, confession and reflections led by Father Ryan O’Neill, Vocations Director for the archdiocese. The group’s tasks during the conference include welcoming retreatants, organizing registration packets, helping during meals and guiding groups as they walk to events.

The Mercy Squad is ideal for college students, as well as young adults who have summers off or are able to take off work.

Michelle Peters, Director of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries for the archdiocese, explained the importance of giving young adults opportunities designed specifically for them.

“It is important that they are given the opportunity to exercise the gifts that they have been given,” she said. “Young adults often look at different parishes and groups before finding one that they settle in.

“By offering the young adults leadership roles in different areas, they will feel a part of the community and will be more active.”

Inspired by Mother Teresa and St. Therese of Lisieux, the Mercy Squad will be in charge of “little acts that make a big difference in helping people feel welcomed and loved,” said McGeehan.

“We’re really wanting to make Mercy Squad a cohort that can emphasize hospitality and love and gift of presence,” she said.

The group will also be “prayer warriors” for the retreatants “through intercessory prayer during adoration or while they’re in the long line for confession,” McGeehan added.

“And having hallway guides that not only are directing them, but also praying and interceding for them in ways the participants might not even realize.”

Peters emphasized the impact those actions can have.

“The success of a conference requires a lot of details — many of which go unnoticed but would be greatly missed if they weren’t there,” she said.

“Steubenville of the Rockies offers our high school students an opportunity to encounter Christ, which can lead to lifelong conversions. The young adults serving at the conference will be helping these high school students have the opportunity to experience a deeper relationship with Christ.”

McGeehan hopes the young adults who join the Mercy Squad will inspire the conference attendees to deepen their faith even more.

“You can be loving God at Steubenville, but to see people a little bit older than you who are still committed to their faith and living it out so much so that they want to do menial tasks and give up their time for them,” she said.

“It’s a good witness of what faith looks like beyond an emotional experience or a spiritual high.”

To apply for the Mercy Squad, visit archden.org/eflm/conferences-retreats/steubenville.

COMING UP: AM[D]G           

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Last November 11, on the centenary of its relocation to a 93-acre campus in suburban Washington, D.C., Georgetown Preparatory School announced a $60 million capital campaign. In his message for the opening of the campaign, Georgetown Prep’s president, Father James Van Dyke, SJ, said that, in addition to improving the school’s residential facilities, the campaign intended to boost Prep’s endowment to meet increasing demands for financial aid. Like other high-end Catholic secondary schools, Georgetown Prep is rightly concerned about pricing itself out of reach of most families. So Prep’s determination to make itself more affordable through an enhanced endowment capable of funding scholarships and other forms of financial aid for less-than-wealthy students is all to the good.

What I find disturbing about the campaign is its “branding” slogan. I first became aware of it when, driving past the campus a few months ago, I noticed a billboard at the corner of Rockville Pike and Tuckerman Lane. In large, bold letters, it proclaimed, “FOR THE GREATER GLORY.” And I wondered, “…of what?” Then one day, when traffic allowed, I slowed down and espied the much smaller inscription in the bottom right corner: “Georgetown Prep’s Legacy Campaign.”

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam [For the greater glory of God], often reduced to the abbreviation, AMDG, was the Latin motto of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Georgetown Prep is a Jesuit school. So what happened to the D-word? What happened to God? Why did AMDG become AM[D]G while being translated into fundraising English?

I made inquiries of Jesuit friends and learned that amputating the “D” in AMDG is not unique to Georgetown Prep; it’s a tactic used by other Jesuit institutions engaged in the heavy-lift fundraising of capital campaigns. That was not good news. Nor was I reassured by pondering Father Van Dyke’s campaign-opening message, in which the words “Jesus Christ” did not appear. Neither did Pope Francis’s call for the Church’s institutions to prepare missionary disciples as part of what the Pope has called a “Church permanently in mission.” And neither did the word “God,” save for a closing “Thanks, and God bless.”

Father Van Dyke did mention that “Ignatian values” were one of the “pillars” of Georgetown prep’s “reputation for excellence.” And he did conclude his message with a call for “men who will make a difference in a world that badly needs people who care, people who, in the words Ignatius wrote his best friend Francis Xavier as he sent him on the Society of Jesus’s first mission, will ‘set the world on fire’.” Fine. But ignition to what end?

Ignatius sent Francis Xavier to the Indies and on to East Asia to set the world on fire with love of the Lord Jesus Christ, by evangelizing those then known as “heathens” with the warmth of the Gospel and the enlivening flame of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. St. Ignatius was a New Evangelization man half a millennium before Pope St. John Paul II used the term. St. Ignatius’s chief “Ignatian value” was gloria Dei, the glory of God.

Forming young men into spiritually incandescent, intellectually formidable and courageous Christian disciples, radically conformed to Jesus Christ and just as deeply committed to converting the world, was the originating purpose of Jesuit schools in post-Reformation Europe. Those schools were not content to prepare generic “men for others;” they were passionately devoted to forming Catholic men for converting others, the “others” being those who had abandoned Catholicism for Protestantism or secular rationalism. That was why the Jesuits were hated and feared by powerful leaders with other agendas, be they Protestant monarchs like Elizabeth I of England or rationalist politicians like Portugal’s 18th-century prime minister, the Marquis of Pombal.

Religious education in U.S. Catholic elementary schools has been improved in recent decades. And we live in something of a golden age of Catholic campus ministry at American colleges and universities. It’s Catholic secondary education in the U.S. that remains to be thoroughly reformed so that Catholic high schools prepare future leaders of the New Evangelization: leaders who will bring others to Christ, heal a deeply wounded culture, and become agents of a sane politics. Jesuit secondary education, beginning with prominent and academically excellent schools like Georgetown Prep, could and should be at the forefront of that reform.

Jesuit secondary education is unlikely to provide that leadership, however, if its self-presentation brackets God and announces itself as committed to “the greater glory” of…whatever.