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What’s on the minds of teens?

A lot, actually – so we’re listening to what they have to say

How often has someone asked you, “A penny for your thoughts?” I ask my friends that question every now and again when I see them with serious looks on their faces. Sometimes, you can just tell when someone is deep in thought and needs to talk. It could be anything from something that happened at work or at home to taking the time to really think about where life is headed. Perhaps they just need a friendly ear to bend for a few minutes. Whatever the reason, I often find it helpful and even enjoyable to find out, on a deeper level, what’s happening in the lives of those who are important to me.

We often tell young people in our parishes that they’re important to us. They are, as we often remind them, the future of the Church. Yet beyond providing a safe environment in which the youth group can meet, supporting their fund raisers, and attending some of the events that mark important moments in their lives, how often do we stop to ask “the future of the Church” what happens to be on their minds? Where do our young people find their joy? What makes them anxious or upset? How are we adults doing in caring for the world that will, one day very soon, be their responsibility? Most importantly, do we take the time to ask them about their relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ?

At the core of this month’s issue of FAITH, our annual teen issue, are these very questions. Our teens get a lot of not-so-good press. We thought it might be good to take some time with a few of the young people of our diocese and ask them to share their deeper insights about life, family, friends, relationships, joys, sorrows, failures, successes and faith. John, Jamie, Louis, Calen and the young people of the ARK at St. Mary Parish in Westphalia are good indicators that there’s a lot more positive stuff happening in the lives of our teens than we might otherwise think. Together with their peers, they indeed represent “the future of the Church” – and that future seems to be in good hands.

Our teens are involved in a bunch of good works, year after year. We took the time to compile just a few examples of the good works that are a vital part of the lives of so many of the teens in our parishes. Yet beyond the good works – things that can be done – is the way we are in the world as followers of Jesus. Bishop Mengeling shares with us a great story from his youth, when a question, asked in a very particular way, sparked a great deal of interest and reflection on his part. Bishop Povish rounds things out with some sage decision-making advice for disciples of all ages.

I invite you to take some time to sit down and read through this issue. The thoughts and insights that our teens can share with us are worth more than a penny. In fact, they’re priceless. And so our journey in FAITH continues.