Life Nite – May 16 – “Season Finale”

     To everything there is a season.  As the school year wound to an end, our Life Teen program celebrated its final scheduled Nite in an attempt to achieve a measure of closure.  After an icebreaker game was played, teens were dispersed into their small groups for the purpose of evaluating/reviewing the end of the Life Teen year.  Rather than simply hand out review sheets, small group leaders led discussions and encouraged individual participation and comment on what worked, what didn’t, and how things could be improved.  Bobby then brought everyone back together and solicited large group feedback.  The overwhelming criticism raised by the group was a call for better discipline during the Life Nites. Teens expressed the fact that all too many times a small handful of their peers was selfishly diverting attention away from the scheduled presenters and activities and towards whatever trivial, off-topic distraction they wanted to interject.  Realizing that not every teen wants to be with us on Sunday nights, does not mean that we can allow inappropriate comments or disrespectful behavior.  It was agreed that Bobby would speak with Fr. KK and work with the Life Teen Core Team to come up with a more effective set of policies for the following 2010-2011 Life Teen year.

It was then time for me to bring the entire Core Team to the front of the room for some closing remarks.  Being the very last Life Teen of the very first year since Life Teen was brought back to our parish, my goal was to put the night and the moment into perspective for both the teens and the Core.  I love TV.  I am most thankful for DVR.  One of the most surprising successful shows of the season was GLEE.   In recent years, shows like How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Fringe, NCIS, 24, and Lost had taken the ratings by storm.  While praying about the remarks I wanted to share on this night, I took the time to look back over the year and while I admit I am biased since I am part of the Core Team, I honestly feel like we had an outstanding year!!  It was at this moment that I saw the parallel between our first year of Life Teen and what its like being part of a brand, new successful show on TV. 

So, with the dedicated young men and women who make up our Life Teen Core standing behind me I closed the year and the Nite by expanding on this parallel.  What makes a great TV show?  It has characters you believe in and even root for.  It offers a good story line, a plot, and typically a resolution.  The TV shows that survive the test of time offer a strong cast, compelling dialogue, and consistently present things in a manner that keeps you tuning in week after week.  Such was our goal and our result from the first year of Life Teen.  I took the time to actually let the Youth see all of the members of our Core Team that tirelessly and faithfully show up week after week to make sure that they have a safe, welcoming, and spiritually positive environment to enjoy. I also wanted to make it clear that the people standing behind me were deserving of their collective appreciation and gratitude because it is never easy to commit to something and put your whole heart into it.  I reminded the teens of a handful of members from our Core Team that had been with us at the start of the year but that for one reason or another had to move on, or drop out. I wanted them to realize that life happens and that every single person on the Core Team, every single part of our “cast”  had made it to the end of the year, in spite of  also having their lives filled with work, school, illness, fatigue, and relationships.  I made sure to give special acknowledgment to Norson who had been such a vital and vibrant member of our Core, but would be leaving Life Teen to pursue a different “call” from our Lord.

I concluded the night by placing the emphasis and the spotlight back on the teens – they are, after all, the very reason why God brought all of us together for the past year and beyond.  I wanted to make the clear point that Life Teen is only successful when they show up.  You can have a top-notch TV program, but if nobody tunes in to watch you get cancelled.  I wanted the teens to see how special they are.  Their heavenly Father loves them so much that he delivered to them a young and vibrant youth coordinator that they can depend on and trust.  I continued my TV parallel by pointing out to them that each and every member of our “cast”, our Core, was at one time sitting out in the audience as teens as well.  I reached out to the youth and asked them to be open to the possibility that one day, if they felt called, perhaps they too would be part of a Core Team for future teens who may not even be born yet.  Never say never. 

Consider This:  Whether you happen to observe life as a good television show or a good book or just a series of random events it is easy to see that life unfolds in parts and segments.  You have your infancy stage.  You grow to toddler.  There is elementary school, followed by middle and high school.  There is the career portion. There is a segment for relationships and family.  As the Life Teen year came to a close, the challenge is to look over your past year and take note of the “highs” and “lows” of your own life story.  So many times we get so caught up with living and being busy that we forget those magical moments that remind us we are alive and whywe love it so much.  So many times we trudge through life without ever pausing to thank our Lord for allowing us to feel, laugh, cry, love and be loved.  Take a moment to catch the moments that mean the most to you.

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