Planning Ahead + Youth Formation Surveys

Planning Ahead

Now that we have entered Holy Week, you are probably feeling like the end of the academic year is approaching quickly. Now is the best time to figure out how you are going to evaluate the programs and efforts you put forth this past year in your parish!

First off, we have a recommendation of a quote to take to prayer as you look back on a year of work in the Church. Feel free to share this with your catechists, as well.

In human actions examples have a great influence than words. This is because a person does and chooses what appears as good to that person. Thus, the actual choice of something manifests its goodness or value to a person even more than what that person teaches should be chosen. This explains why when someone says one thing and does another, what he does, has a greater influence on others than what he teaches. Therefore, it is of the greatest necessity to give an example. – St. Thomas Aquinas

Second, while your students and families are still actively engaged in your programs, classes and routines, think about giving them surveys that help them reflect on the past year. Thanks to Dominick at St. Thomas Aquinas for getting us started on ideas for surveys to use in our Religious Education and Youth Formation apostolates! Dominck’s teens completed their surveys during their final class; parents were e-mailed a Google Form survey that same weekend.

Middle or High School Survey Questions

  • I grew most in my relationship with Jesus Christ this year by…
  • This year, the most important thing I learned was…
  • After this year, I would still like to learn … about our Catholic faith.
  • My favorite part of the year was…
  • My least favorite part of the year was…
  • What were the three most impactful things your teacher/core team/youth minister did with you this year in our parish?
  • I would like to see more … next year in our parish for the youth.
  • If I could go on a trip with our church anywhere in the USA, I would like to go…
  • My favorite thing to do with my friends is…
  • List the top three forms of social media that you use on a regular basis.
  • I plan to attend/participate in (Love Begins Here, parish mission trip, Camp Gray, Totus Tuus, VBS volunteering, etc.) this summer.

For a reference, check out Dominick’s parent surveyThe one thing Dominick would have added to the survey was a field to collect the names of folks who are answering the questions. In many cases, it would be helpful to get in touch with parents to learn more about their answers.

What else have you added to your end of the year surveys? Share your great ideas in the comments below!

Freshly Brewed, Episode 26: FourFiveSeconds from JOY

Happy game day basketball fans! We are so excited to release this podcast! In fact, there couldn’t be a more timely occasion for Lindsay to interview the biggest Badger fan in the Midwest, Mykenzie Lemberger, about the difference between happiness and joy as some of our March Madness brackets make it or break it! As a Camp Gray alumna, former LBH Core Team member, current educator and caretaker of youth, and sports enthusiast, Mykenzie has some beautiful perspective on how to distinguish between the pleasure of happiness and the peace found with true joy. Listen here to be inspired by a woman filled with joy rooted in the promise of eternal life!

Mykenzie and her brother doin' what they do best, cheering on the Badgers!
Mykenzie and her brother doin’ what they do best, cheering on the Badgers!


The Joy of the Gospel – Pope Francis

Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire – Joseph Langford

Mother Teresa’s Daily Prayer

Freshly Brewed, Episode 25: I Take My Coffee Black, Like My Clerics

Happy Feast day of St. Joseph! This week on the podcast Father Greg Ihm shares some reflections on the life of St. Joseph and how he can inspire men to grow in virtue in order to become the spiritual or biological fathers they were created to be! Father Greg also talks about childhood memories with his father and how this relationship revealed to him the tangible realities and beauty of God’s fatherly love for him! Listen here for some awesome perspective on the role of men in the Church and in families! St. Joseph, pray for us!



Percolating Definitions:

Percolation.  Technically, any method of coffee brewing in which hot water percolates, or filters down through, a bed of ground coffee. The pumping percolator utilizes the power of boiling water to force water up a tube and over a bed of ground coffee.<>

Percolating. To brew coffee in a percolator; to become active, lively, or spirited; to show activity, movement, or life <>

The Mystery of Joseph

The Feast of Saint Joseph


Celebrate Wins (and Transform Your … Meetings!)

Celebrate Wins - Tools for Rebuilding - Catholic Book Review

Welcome, friends. Today’s blog post is the first in a series that I’m writing to recap the inspiration that was shared at our recent St. John Bosco Youth Ministry/Formation Planning Day (SJBYMFPD). This way, folks from around the Diocese who couldn’t join us in person are able to reap the benefits of this time of learning, collaboration and planning! Specifically, today I’d like to share about an idea proposed in Tools for Rebuilding: 75 Really, Really Practical Ways to Make Your Parish Better: #64 – Celebrate Wins.

(Sidebar: I would not give this book a wholehearted, two thumbs up review. I think that many ideas are really incredible, others were off to a good start, and some may only provide for an interesting conversation. If you’re interested in reading it, I would love for you to get in touch with me and schedule a coffee outing where we can discuss its content! This way, we can filter out the okay, good and great ideas together.)

This particular idea (#64) we’re talking about today is one of those outstanding ideas proposed. The general concept is simple: the Holy Spirit is moving in the Church, and it is a great thing to recognize how the Lord is transforming hearts, with our cooperation. We should be celebrating wins with our parish staff, with our catechists and with our communities. Knowing how the authors define a “win” is helpful: “We define a win as any positive movement someone makes toward a relationship with Christ and his Church” (255).

Pope Francis supports celebrating wins, as he wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium “An evangelizing community is filled with joy; it knows how to rejoice always. It celebrates every small victory, every step forward in the work of evangelization” (24).

We began our recent SJBYMFPD by celebrating the small victories we’ve been a part of this year. It was inspiring to hear about the transformations happening throughout our parishes! This is a routine the Love Begins Here Core Team uses to begin every Sunday staff meeting. We start by putting ourselves in a positive state of mind through sharing the impact moments we witnessed the previous week. Give that a try at the next meeting you coordinate! (As the book suggests, make sure to define a win, and once you hear them, share them – in the bulletin, with parents and beyond!)

I’d love to hear about your might use this practical idea in your own parish or apostolate. Leave a comment to share your ideas! – Lindsay

Freshly Brewed, Episode 24: Freshly Brûléed Tool-aid

Just in case the change in seasons wasn’t bringing you enough joy…We are psyched to release this podcast gem! In this episode Chris sits down with Andrew Dennis Hoeben, son of the Camp Gray Camp Directors! Taking seriously his full-time job as official Camp Gray Joy-Maker, get to know Andrew and listen here as he reminds us that “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3




International Harvester

If You’re Gonna Play In Texas

THE Cassidy Games

Morning Offering 

Freshly Brewed, Episode 23: Throwback Thursday

Our listeners have spoken and we have listened! Here is our Throwback Thursday episode where we answer a question a listener posted asking the hosts to talk about their favorite memories from LBH and Camp Gray/how we all got involved working with these programs! In this episode you can hear Lindsay, Sara and Chris talk about how these organizations have inspired them as well as why they keep doing what they’re doing! Trust us, you won’t want to miss Chris’ recount of the epic skunk v. CG Staffers legend. Listen here for some laughs, inspiration, and good memories!

Wilderness Wanda!
From left to right, Sara as a first time LBH Missionary(2009!!), CG Counselor, and LBH Core Team member!
You may recognize more faces than just Lindsay and Chris in the photo above, but here is a shot from Lindsay and Chris’ CG Staffer days and them now!