After an incredibly busy year here at the office, I began wondering how I would spend my two weeks holidays. To date, I really haven't taken any personal days for myself. It's been go, go, go all year with many exciting projects.
Many possibilities presented themselves. I was asked a few months ago by a very dear Youth Ministry colleague at Holy Family Parish in Bolton to consider being a parish volunteer and facilitator at this year's EDGE camp in Haliburton, Ont. After a ton of soul searching, I decided that this is what I was being called to do. Deep down, I knew that I'd rather spend my time with upwards of 300 students at Camp White Pine for EDGE camp - than on a cruise down south or a week up at the cottage.
All in all, this was an incredibly smart and spirit-filled decision. Let me explain.
The theme for this year's camp was Veni Sanctus Spiritus, when translated into English from Latin, means Come Holy Spirit.
From the day we arrived at camp right until the very last day, there was an incredible amount of energy, enthusiasm and spirit. Mass was celebrated each day by various priests from within the Archdiocese of Toronto. Auxillary Bishop, John A. Boissonneau of Toronto, took the time to celebrate the Eucharist for us on Sunday. Nearly 20 priests were on hand at one point during the week to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation. It was a blessed moment. For me personally, I had the chance to facilitate group sessions and mentor a group of 16 students from all over the GTA. I had the chance of dealing with many young people who came from various backgrounds - those with a strong sense of faith and those who had no sort of interaction with the Church outside of their Sunday obligation.
Throughout my time at White Pine, I met Christ in the Eucharist, participated in challenges, high-ropes, swimming, canoeing, archery, mountain biking, rosary making and so much more.
I was forced to explain to my kids throughout the week that I was not 17 years of age or a high-school drop out. In fact, I am 22 - fresh out of University and college, a regular working young adult working as a journalist and television producer in Toronto.
After having the opportunity to experience EDGE camp for the first time, I saw for myself how vital and necessary EDGE and Lifeteen are to the universal Church and Catholic Youth Ministry. I strongly agree that these youth programs should be alive and active in every Catholic parish across Canada and the United States. The Church is alive and youthful, and it was proudly shown at last week's camp. The Masses I participated in had life and enthusiasm. The students were responsive. In fact, they knew each part of the new Roman Missal. If only every parish congregation looked and sounded like the one I was apart of at White Pine! One can only imagine.
As many of you already know, I had the opportunity to work in Youth Ministry before coming to Salt + Light Television. I served as Youth Minister at St. Justin, Martyr Parish in Unionville, Ont for close to two years. Having had the opportunity to work along side many of the students and Youth Ministers from across the diocese for a week at camp, I felt as if I was back in my element - in my own skin. I was busy and absolutely exhausted at the end - but totally uplifted and struck by the zeal of all those who gathered.
As Chris Tomlin would say, I know where the Spirit of the Lord is. It was at Camp White Pine last week and that same Spirit continues to breathe life into my work and my multiple friendships here at Salt + Light.
So as I finish this message and get back into the swing of things here at the office, I will continue to sing, hum, pray and remember those most precious moments I had with so many faithful young people and pastoral leaders last week.
Honestly and truly, I had the best vacation ever.
Photo courtesy of David Patterson, Bowmanville