As we go on… Catholic Graduation Season

JPII Graduation - John Paul II - World Youth Day 1986

Graduation season is upon us. Whether you have loved ones graduating from college or high school, there are celebrations to be had, choices to face and inspiration to be given.

Thanks to Lifeteen, we’ve rounded up some great blog posts to share with the graduates in your life, or anyone gearing up for summer vaca!
– How to avoid the Senior Scramble?
– What kind of choices will you make at graduation?
10 Fun Things to Do This Summer
10 More Fun Things to Do This Summer

Also, we have a resource to give you. This is the synthesized list (from our spring Regional Gatherings) of GREAT ideas on how to celebrate graduates in our parishes and reach out to them as they leave home this summer! Download your copy of this Graduate Advice. If you’ve got anything to add, be in touch.

To the class of 2014, it is our prayer that you move on to do very great things – big or small – with great love for the Lord.

From the Mission Field: JPII Inspiration

JPII Calcutta

When one saint preaches the homily at another to-be saint’s beatification, you know it’s good. That was the case when (to be) Saint Pope John Paul the Great preached at Bl. Mother Teresa’s beatification. This homily is worth the read and perfectly timed for any Love Begins Here missionaries who want to celebrate the legacy of JPII this weekend.

Also, if you’re curious where the words above came from, check out this short quote from Jason Evert’s book Saint John Paul the Great:

When visiting the poorest of the poor at Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute and dying in Calcutta, he reminded them, “You are not God’s abandoned children. Quite the opposite. God will find joy in your faith and courage.” … He felt so at home with the poor that when visiting Mother Teresa in Calcutta, someone nearby heard him whisper to her, “If I could, I would make this my headquarters as Pope.”

Happy Canonization weekend! (In case you’re looking to throw a canonization party, check out this Pinterest board.) Saint John Paul the Great, pray for Love Begins Here, our missionaries, our Core Team and all Madison Catholic Youth!

John Paul II, we love you.

There are a few things we want to share with you on this spring day!

First up, in case you haven’t seen it, the Love Begins Here promo video launched yesterday. One of the coolest facebook posts we saw in conjunction with a share of it, was the following, by Dan, a former missionary who is in his first year of college.

Words cannot describe the joy and good fruits that so beautifully radiate from Love Begins Here and these people, so I am just going to leave this video here with a piece of advice: do it. You will never regret making that decision to take part in one of the most life changing things I have ever experienced.



Second, we would like for you to save the date of October 19th. At 1:00pm in the afternoon, Chris Stefanick (international Catholic speaker and the brains behind Chosen) will be making a stop in the Diocese of Madison. (St. John the Baptist in Waunakee will host us!) He will speak with teens and parents for a couple hours that afternoon as a part of the Revolution of Love Series that will be coming back for the 2014 – 2015 school year. We will have more information to share later this spring!

Third, congrats to Topher (from Camp Gray!) and Anna (2014 LBH Core Team member) on winning the JP2 Book giveaways last week! They will be in the mail on Friday.

JPII Demanding Love

On the topic of this great to-be saint, we thought that over the next few weeks we could share with you some inspiration and insights from the book. Today’s summary is of chapter 7, on his love for young people. (In case you are curious, chapters 1 – 6 are a biography.)

Blessed John Paul II’s great love for the youth and commitment to them can teach us many things. The following are four lessons we, especially those who work with teens, can learn from him.

1. Be present.
John Paul immersed himself in his interactions with the youth, from his young years as a priest unto his aging years as our Holy Father. An University instructor who spent time with him and the youth on wilderness trips recalled, “He lived and breathed these problems [on their hearts]. And because young people live and breathe love, he lived and breathed these young people’s love.” Not only did he enter into their deepest questions and struggles, he literally made himself available, regularly announcing to the youth where he was staying so they could visit him on his travels. We all have many things fighting for our attention. The fact of the matter is that we must put them down and order our days (and lives) to be available and present to the hearts of our teens.

2. Do not compromise on the truth.
John Paul did not believe in shying away from teaching and preaching the truth. He recognized that the world already sold the youth short, and he did not want to join them in doing so. As Jason writes, “if he had lowered the standard, he’d have missed the chance to invite people to live lives of heroic virtue.” Our young people want the truth and want to be challenged. Be a beacon of light and truth for them, in the midst of this often dark world.

3. Whatever you do, remain authentic.
What John Paul believed and what he said were one in the same. He took his call to witness to his Catholic faith very seriously. He made it known that encountering Christ changes ones life. We are called to that same witness, preaching that we have a “real capacity to become the image of his Son”, rather than believing we are “the sum of our weaknesses and failures.”

4. Make your who life about love.
Here Jason tells a story of the young people on John Paul’s first visit to the USA chanting “John Paul II, we love you!” The Holy Father, so delighted by their excitement and genuine love, responded, “Perhaps, I love you more.” He knew that by loving the young people, he could introduce them to the love that will solve all their problems and answer all of their questions. He called them to live in that love, in true freedom, regardless of how demanding of a task it might seem to be. Taking his witness to heart, we need to be devoted to loving the folks the Lord puts in our lives, so that along they way we can offer them His love.

Canonization Preparation, Bishop Morlino and a Sweet Giveaway!

Today on the blog, we are doing a little round up of some sweet things that have surfaced in the past week!


First up, Tiffany Topel (the super sweet and talented youth minister in Jefferson) was featured on the Lifeteen blog this week! Go read it! Not only does it feature the story of Bishop Morlino’s visit with her Middle School Youth, but she also shares two important things she learned from the visit. Huge thanks to Tiffany for not only her passionate work but sharing her wisdom with folks in the Madison Diocese and far beyond.

Second, Noah is coming out this weekend, and we have collected a number of things to read, if you are thinking about seeing it. The first recommendation would be to read the actual account of Noah and the ark in scripture; start in Genesis 6 and continue through Genesis 9. (A quick, or thorough, reading will tell you that there must be some additions or cinematic choices made to make the story into a feature length film.) There is a thoughtful review on the National Catholic Register that provides some context for the movie and thoughts on the production and retelling of the story. Catholic Online movie reviewer Scot Landry makes a case for 8 Reasons Why Catholics Should See Noah. And, Catholic Vote has a blog post on 100 proudly Catholic films, whether or not you feel like Noah is going to bring you to the theater.


Third, while we’re still in the midst of Lent, let’s not forget to prepare for the great feast of Divine Mercy that is coming our way one month from today! Along with the great feat in the midst of the Easter season, on April 27th of this year, two canonizations will take place, of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. Now is the perfect time to learn about these great saints-to-be. Here are a few suggestions:
– Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII 
– Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert (Learn about this incredible brand new book here! From there you can download a chapter of it, place a bulk order for them in paperback, pick one up in hardcover, and get the links to buy them on your iPad, Kindle or Nook!)
Pope John XXIII Vatican Webpage
Pope John XXIII Beatification Homily
Pope John Paul II Vatican Webpage
Pope John Paul II Beatification Homily

Fourth, thanks to the great support for the Camp Gray fundraiser at Orange Leaf (the Old Sauk, Middleton location) last night. See the recap from the event on their Twitter account.

Fifth, go Badgers!

Sixth, if you want to win a copy of Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, you have a chance to do so today! Just leave a comment with your name and Parish. We’ll draw two winners at 10:00am on Monday, March 30th!

Reclaiming the Truth

We are thrilled to share that coming in April, we are not only having our typical rockin’ rEVOLution of Love event for high school students and their parents, but we are also going to be hosting a day retreat leading up to that event for interested high school students.

April Event Blog

Both events will be happening at the Bishop O’Connor Center on April 14th.

Reclaiming the Truth Retreat
1:30 – 7:30pm
The retreat includes two sessions led by incredible young adults from the Madison Diocese. The first is on the truth about high school dating and relationships, how fast is too fast and some fundamentals of the Theology of the Body. The second will be on the real definitions of man and woman. This session will explore how to live out the truth of one’s identity in today’s world. Also included in the retreat is time for prayer, games, small group discussions, planning for the future and fun! At 5:00pm, all retreat goers will have a pizza dinner before joining the Reclaiming the Truth Event with Vicki Thorn.

DSCN0352Reclaiming the Truth Event
5:30 – 7:30pm
Donations accepted.
Vicki Thorn (pictured above), founder of Project Rachel and director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing, will be speaking on the topic of The Biology of the Theology of the Body. The event includes her presentation for high school teens and their parents, followed by a question and answer session with the parents. Vicki brings passion, knowledge and great story telling capabilities to the talk. She will be breaking open the truth of this topic not often discussed in today’s world. Teens will have an opportunity for discussion and Adoration after the talk.

Help us spread the word about this event by sharing the link to this blog post, having ads run in your Parish’s bulletin and talking with your friends and/or teens about it!

On April 14, at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison, there will be a rEVOLution of Love event for high school teens and their parents. For teens who want to dive into the teaching of Theology of the Body and how to bring that truth into the world, they can attend the retreat, from 1:30 – 7:30pm. For those who are interested just in hearing Vicki Thorn, an incredible international speaker, give her presentation on The Biology of the Theology Body can come to the event from 5:30 – 7:30pm. For more information, visit

Get your copy of the poster for the event, right here.

Our Patron’s BIG Feast Day!

October 22nd.

34 years ago Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.

Today the American Church is celebrating his feast day for the first time.

I am fairly positive you would really enjoy the Office of Readings for today, featuring the homily newly elected Pope John Paul II gave on that day. Though it may have been done hundreds of times today, it doesn’t hurt to quote these famous words again: “Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ.

On a perhaps lesser known note, I wanted to offer an explanation of the quote on the photo above. During mission trips this summer, a young missionary told me a story about JPII after I shared a series of stories about him during our final night together. Gary told me about the time when during a speech to a group of young people who were chanting, “We love you” he responded with the classic words, “Perhaps I love you more.”

This happened during Pope John Paul II’s first trip to the United States as our Holy Father. He was speaking with a group of students at CUA. (Feel free to watch this beautiful moment for yourself — it occurs between minutes 2:00 and 4:00.)

That day, I am sure he meant those spoken words. More powerfully, he demonstrated this love for them throughout his entire Papacy. He taught the young Catholics of the world the art of living and loving. During each one of his 104 foreign trips around the world, he addressed the young people of the nation he was visiting. And throughout them all, he taught the path to true love —

“Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not clearly tell you so. For it was Jesus—our Jesus himself—who said : “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (Jn 15 :14). Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment.

Dear young people : do not be afraid of honest effort and honest work; do not be afraid of the truth. With Christ’s help, and through prayer, you can answer his call, resisting temptations and fads, and every form of mass manipulation. Open your hearts to the Christ of the Gospels—to his love and his truth and his joy. Do not go away sad!”

Homily on October 1, 1979 in Boston

Today, and every day, do not hesitate to ask this master in living and loving to intercede for you, the young people of the Church and all of those who work with the youth of the Diocese. Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

TOB for Teens High School: Day 2 Training Update

We’re ready for ROUND 2 of our training days. Today, we’re focusing in on sharing this powerful message with High School students!

Again, please use the comment field below to join in on the conversation here on the world wide web. We would love for you to share wisdom, questions, inspiration and ideas that came to you during the training.

Brian has loved sharing with us the powerful truth behind Pope Paul VI’s words the past couple days:

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

TOB for Teens Middle School: Day 1 Training Update

We are super excited to have Brian Butler in town to give us all kinds of wisdom and insight on sharing Theology of the Body with the Middle School age teens in our lives.

We’ll update this pages with highlights and photos after the day is wrapped up, but we would also welcome thoughts, insights, questions and reflections from the attendees during the day! Please use the comments section in this post to join in on this online conversation.

Super epic quotes from Brian Butler:

We need to keep in mind that in our missionary activity God always has in mind first and foremost our own salvation.

… on the brokenness in the garden:

We try to derive the infinite from the finite, and we destroy ourselves in the process.

… on talking about contraception with Middle School youth:

The Church teaches us that intrinsically love and life always go together. We need to teach the same.

Theology of the Body Training

Don’t let the opportunity pass you by! We want your presence at the super beautiful Theology of the Body for Teens training that’s coming to Madison in just two weeks. Brian Butler, mastermind behind this series from Ascension Press, is coming to Madison to present to catechetical leaders, parents, teachers and all people interested in passing along the truth behind Blessed Pope John Paul II’s incredible teaching on human sexuality and what men and women were created for.

Basic Details:
Middle School Training – Thursday, August 9th at the BOCC
High School Training – Friday, August 10th at the BOCC

Visit the registration page on Diocese of Madison website for more information and to get signed up today.

While you’re at it, share the good news with a friend or two, and come as a group!

Get in touch with Lindsay or Andy with more questions.

Do you love Bl. JPII?

My guess is that by reading this blog or stopping by, the answer most likely is yes. Who doesn’t love a Holy Father who…
… gave 3,288 planned speeches during his Apostolic Voyagues,
… Beatified 1,338 Blesseds,
… Canonized 482 Saints,
… held 1,161 General Audiences,
… spoke to over 17,600,000 people at those General Audiences,
… broke open the teaching of the Theology of the Body,
… established World Youth Day,
… gave the Church the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary,
… encouraged the New Evangelization,
… and above all was an outstanding model of holiness for all people.

Now that you are remembering some of the many reasons why you love Blessed Pope John Paul II, make sure to mark your calendars for May 20th. On this afternoon, there will be a beautiful celebration in honor of his beatification, including a St. Therese Lecture on Faith, Reason and Unity, a topic close to the heart of Bl. JPII, Mass with Bishop Morlino and a reception.

To RSVP for this event, please visit the Diocese of Madison’s website. You surely don’t want to miss this day of celebration and learning about the life and teachings of Bl. JPII from Professor Douglas Bushman.