They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that may be true, but I can tell you for sure that it takes a village to put on a Steubenville youth conference.
Every weekend, 140-ish staff members and volunteers begin their service to God’s kids at SteubySTL by converging on O’Reilly Catholic Student Center at 10 am on Friday morning, as we did this morning. We gather to pray before we get to work.
Our church teaches that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our faith, which means that it is the most powerful thing we can experience (because we receive Jesus) and it is also the point from which all of our inspiration and energy flows. So, we began our conference with Mass.
Our priest for this weekend’s ministry team is familiar to many of us: Fr. Chris Martin. He is the pastor of St. Clare of Assisi Parish, and prior to serving there he was the director of the Office of Vocations for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He has attended many SteubySTL conferences, and we always love having him with us.
In his homily today, Fr. Martin shared with us the analogy of the body, and said that we Christians are like the blood of the body: to give energy and nutrition to the body, we are sent out. And while we are out, we might get beat up, and can get infected with pollutants, but then we are always sent back for cleansing and rejuvenation. That rejuvenation happens anytime we draw closer to Jesus, who wants to then send us back out again.
Father Martin shared with us a very powerful quote from St. John Vianney who said,
“I will suffer anything for the conversion of my parish.”
He encouraged us to be willing to suffer and take upon ourselves small sacrifices so that the young people attending this conference can be drawn in closer to Jesus.
He closed with this quote from Mother Teresa,
“The amazing thing is not the work that we do, but that we do it joyfully.”