I write to invite you to send teens and adults from your parish to one of this year’s Steubenville Youth Conferences. I’ve been attending Steubenville Atlanta with teens for almost a decade now, and I can tell you that it has always proven to be a powerful encounter. The most important thing I’ve noticed about my teens that have attended is that they have come to a personal belief in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and that belief has transformed their identity as Catholics. But in addition to that, as a pastor, I have seen a couple of other significant things happen:
- The energy carries on well after the weekend is over. As I write this letter, Advent is upon us and teens from last summer’s conference are still seeking daily Mass, volunteering in our food pantry, and engaging in parish programs with great enthusiasm.
- It strengthens your existing youth ministry programs by giving you and your youth minister(s) a solid “core” of teens who are on-board to participate, bring friends, and get involved.
- Teens have such powerful experiences of Christ on the weekend that they come home and evangelize their parents and siblings. I have seen family unity and prayer strengthened greatly as a result of Steubenville conferences.
- Our parents don’t always understand what goes on during the weekends beforehand, but they greatly understand when they see their children living the faith joyfully. Most parents gladly pay for their teens to repeat the trip the following year—and a few of our parents with teens now graduated still “scholarship” to pay for other teens to go!
- The parish sees the enthusiasm of our teens after weekends like this and sees a great hope for the future of the Church—which increases their involvement, giving, and joy for the parish.
All in all, I hope you will encourage your teens to make the trip and join us (maybe again) for one of these conferences. Partnering with Life Teen, a tremendous movement and provider of resources for quality youth ministry, this is truly the “best of the best” for programming and teaching for youth in the country.
Finally, I hope that you will consider joining me and dozens of other priests for the weekend. The lines for the Sacrament of Penance seem to never end, but the experience of offering reconciliation to endless numbers of teens is a beautiful mix of exhausting and energizing. For some like me, it has been a powerful renewal of my priesthood each summer. Priests attend for free, and you’ll never feel more loved and supported than by the staff, Life Teen community, and most importantly your own teens.
I hope to see you this summer!
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Father Dan Beeman
Pastor, Holy Trinity, Norfolk, Virginia