Love Begins Here 2015: Summer Schedule

Tim Teaching Under LightsHey Love Begins Here missionaries, friends and family! On this wintery day, we are so excited to share our 2015 summer schedule with y’all. As you take a look at it, you’ll see a many new towns and parishes in the mix, and we could not be more excited about that. (After this summer, we’ll have gone to 10 of the 11 counties in the Diocese since our founding in 2009!)

On this Thanksgiving week, we are especially grateful to be welcomed into these towns, parishes and the hearts of their people. Being a host parish requires considerable sacrifice, but we hope that through our enthusiastic missionaries and the love they have to give that we are able to pay them back abundantly. It has been incredible to watch that take place over the past 6 years.

To learn more about what we’re thankful for during this week of gratitude, stay tuned to our Facebook page or Instagram account.

As December dawns, be on the lookout in your parishes to learn which weeks they’ll be participating in! If your parish isn’t attending as a group, you’re welcome to register as an individual. Individual registration for LBH2015 will open on December 15th!

June 14 – 19 | High School 1
Sacred Hearts, Reedsburg

June 21 – 26 | High School 2
St. Joseph, Fort Atkinson

June 28 – July 1 | Middle School 1
Holy Rosary, Darlington

July 6 – 10 | Rising 9th
St. John the Baptist, Montello

July 12 – 17 | High School 3
OLA, Beloit

July 19 – 22 | Middle School 2
Queen of Peace, Madison

July 26 – 31 | High School 4
St. Bernard, Madison

Cover Photo

From the Mission Field: The Mission Manifesto

This summer, we penned our Mission Manifesto. We think it sums up the work we have been up to for the past six years quite nicely. Each and every day this summer, our teens read the manifesto together as they began their work on the mission field. By the end of the week, they all were able to share so beautifully how much these words spoke to them and made an impact on their LBH experience.

To share this manifesto with you all, we’d love for you to hear the words spoken by the 2014 Core Team. (We’re still praying for our nearly 400 summer missionaries each and every day.)

Below, we’d invite you to read about how our mission is inspired by our Holy Fathers and our Patron, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. If you want to a copy of the Manifesto to print and/or share, please download this one right here: LBH Mission Manifesto with Quotes!

Neighbors first.

We boldly take initiative to bring love to our neighbors, evangelizing with patience and joy.

An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. – Pope Francis, (Evangelii Gaudium, 24)

We are aware that when we close our eyes to our neighbor, it also blinds us to God.

Saint John’s words should rather be interpreted to mean that love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God. – Pope Benedict XVI (Deus Caritas Est, 16)

We encounter Him in those we serve.

Christian love is not simply an act of charity, it is also an encounter with Christ himself in the poor. – Saint John Paul II to the Missionaries of Charity

By putting God first in all we do, we live to serve others. Things of the world come last. We will find ourselves and come alive when we make a sincere gift of ourselves to our neighbors.

This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. – Second Vatican Council, (Gaudium et spes, 24)

Small things. Great love.

We work on a small scale with a larger perspective.

We need to sink our roots deeper into the fertile soil and history of our native place, which is a gift of God. We can work on a small scale, in our own neighborhood, but with a larger perspective. – Pope Francis, (Evangelii Gaudium, 235)

No task is too small in the eyes of the Lord when filled with great love.

God has created us so we do small things with great love. I believe in that great love, that comes, or should come from our heart, should start at home: with my family, my neighbors across the street, those right next door. And this love should then reach everyone. – Blessed Mother Teresa

We will aim for perfection in our work because our work belongs to the Lord.

Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse; on the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing. – Pope Francis, (Evangelii Gaudium, 121)

Missionary Disciples

We are missionaries who work with passion, knowing we can bring God’s love to our brothers and sisters who hunger.

There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them. – Blessed Mother Teresa

Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.

Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self. – Blessed Mother Teresa

We refuse to settle for comfort and complacency, because we know each person is infinitely loved.

The life of the Church should always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative, that “he has loved us first” (1 Jn 4:19) and that he alone “gives the growth” (1 Cor 3:7).  – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium, 12)

“It is important always to know that the first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only begging for this divine initiative, shall we too be able to become – with him and in him – evangelizers”. – Pope Benedict XVI

We are the ones who enjoy life most, leaving security on the shore, on a mission to spread the joy of the Gospel.

The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others”. – Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium, 10)

Thanks for checking in! In case you are curious, Love Begins Here 2015 Registration is going to open on December 15th this year! The calendar will be released in mid-October.

In the meantime, get excited for a new Madison Catholic Youth podcast. It will highlight the latest and greatest for our Diocesan Catholic youth, the happenings around Camp Gray and what’s up on the LBH Mission Field. We are planning to launch it on Thursday, October 2!

High School Camp Gray Adventure Day: Fall 2014 Recap

Quote Lake SunsetThanks to all the folks who came out to join us at Adventure Day on September 6th at Camp Gray. It was a beautiful day, and we’re here today to share more about it with you! First up, take a look at this rockin’ video of all the fun we had!

If you want the full story behind what you’ve seen, we’d suggest you reading this stellar recap of the day from Sara, the LBH Intern.

Adventure Book Pic

As much as we want to know our Heavenly Father, He wants to be known even more. With this understanding that He is constantly trying to reveal himself to us through the many gifts He has bestowed on us, the Love Begins Here and Camp Gray communities joined together to go on an epic adventure to explore our Father’s infinite love by encountering Him in His great outdoors. While rock climbing, kayaking, fire building, fishing, and praying together in the company of vibrant sons and daughters of Christ, we caught a genuine glimpse of what the Lord meant when He said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

Throughout the day we talked about our Lord’s all-consuming desire to take us on the most exciting journey on earth as He leads us to our final destination in Heaven. These conversations were a perfect reminder that these beautiful experiences we share together amongst authentic friends are just a fraction of what He has in store for us tomorrow, next week, and the rest of our lives.

Adventure Day 1 Blog

For the teens that stayed overnight, we wrapped up the weekend by participating in the celebration of Mass, followed by a solo hike. It was here that we reflected on the ways we were going to continue to pursue a relationship with Jesus on a day to day basis and thus allow Him to transform our hearts.

Words of praise and thanksgiving offered to our Father did not even seem to suffice for the gift of such a perfect weekend to wrap up the summer and send us off with a heavenly vigor for the new experiences to be had this upcoming year. If this Adventure Day was just a glimpse of His glory, just imagine what He desires to share with us the more we desire to encounter Him!

Adventure Day 2 Blog

“Heavenly Father,
Give me the courage to strive for the highest goals,
to flee every temptation to be mediocre.
Enable me to aspire to greatness, as Pier Giorgio did,
and to open my heart with joy to Your call to holiness.
Free me from the fear of failure.
I want to be, Lord, firmly and forever united to You.
Grant me the graces I ask You through Pier Giorgio’s intercession,
by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!

Again, we’d encourage you to SAVE THE DATE for the Middle School Adventure Day at Camp Gray, which will take place on May 2nd!

From the Mission Field: 30,000 Hours!

Thursday - Final

We could not be happier to share with you this incredible news. Mid-afternoon on Thursday, July 10, 2014, Love Begins Here passed the 30,000 hour mark of total number of hours given to our neighbors in need since our founding in 2009.

Praise the Lord for the great number of missionaries who have joined us over these past six summers, the countless (well, 100+) great adults who have joined us in taking such incredible care of our teens, and folks in the towns throughout the Diocese that have welcomed us into their homes and lives. Every single day, we hear stories about how lives are changing on the mission field. It is humbling to be a part of and at the helm of.

One extra special thank you is worth mentioning, in the midst of this extremely blessed sixth summer of LBH. Again this year, the Apostolate to the Handicapped has generously granted LBH with a sizable donation to help keep our mission going. We could not be more thankful for the support and being able to join them in the mission of serving those in need within the Diocese. Day in, day out, as we come into contact with people who are varied in abilities, we feel so privileged to bring the joy of the Gospel into their lives, through small actions done with great love.

As a special treat on this blessed occasion, we have a new little video to share with you. We think you’ll be able to sense the joy that was a part of the big day!

LBH Mission Director

From the Mission Field: Water Zumba

This week on the blog, Nicky the Intern shares about a classic LBH tradition!

Water Zumba 1

There is something uniquely beautiful about being at a local pool, surrounded by a handful of elderly women, moving to the music with a group of 80 young people as they Zumba. Water Zumba has become a beloved and annual tradition for the LBH high schoolers who spend a week in Monroe, Wisconsin each summer. For those who have experienced it, there is no question as to the epic nature of this aquatic dance. However, for those of you who have yet to try this unique form of grace and athleticism, we have former LBH core team members Blaine Hechimovich and Gina Hackl here to shed some light on the topic.

Water Zumba 2

Why would I want to water zumba?
BH: Have you ever wanted to be a ninja AND a Navy Seal? Basically that’s what Zumba trains people for. Also, to be a dolphin.

What in life is water zumba comparable to?
GH: Water Zumba is one of the most hilarious activities of which I have ever been a part of. Imagine the awkward kid on the dance floor at a school dance who is just going for it. Now put him in water, and that’s pretty much what everyone looks like doing Water Zumba.

How do I know if I’m doing it right?
BH:If you’re not splashing other people, you’re not doing it right.

How do I know if I’m doing it wrong?
BH:If you don’t cough up water at least 3 times, you’re doing it wrong.

Why do kids continue to love water zumba year after year?
GH:There is something oddly refreshing about getting to be that awkward.

What if I’m on the side of the pool feeling hesitant?
GH:My advice would be, just go for it! The kid next to you looks just as ridiculous.

Any last pointers for a beginner?
BH:Chlorine water is not ok to drink, tie your swim trunks on tight, and remember to have a partner there, like Dan “The Man” Bergs, to keep you focused and driven.

Water Zumba 3Thanks for sharing Blaine and Gina! LBH cannot wait to spend another amazing summer filled with all the unique experiences, like Water Zumba, that come along as you do the Lord’s work.

From the Mission Field: Ode to the Trailer

Nicky Trailer

Love Begins Here moves every week, from town to town, throughout the 11 counties of the Diocese of Madison. To make this happen, a few years back, we invested in a trailer, in part due to the generosity of our Shareholders.

To become one for this summer and help us support the mission, download this paperwork! We’d love to have you on board.

Long story short, we love our trailer. How much? Let’s let Nicky, the LBH intern tell you.

To help you enter into the poetry, you can watch Nicky, the LBH Intern, deliver her poem here!

If you want to keep the poem forever, download and the Trailer Ode PDF!

Or, just read it here.

Ode to the Trailer

Shiny, metal, parked just outside in our lot.
A part of LBH not to be forgot.
To recall life before, through our minds we must sift
Let us now remember LBH pre-our gift

Friday: Time to move for our next group of all-stars
So, we’ll pack up the gear and put it in our cars.
Shoving supplies in every cranny and nook
Going crazy about how much time it all took

Having to make extra trips to each place
Trying to suppress a very sleepy face
Desperately wanting to recharge for next week
A new way was needed. We started to seek

The answer came soon, a trailer was the lead
But how to make this happen? Help we would need.
To those feelings of not knowing, soon came some shifts
With the generous LBH shareholders’ gifts

Ideal and beautiful, it was the perfect place
To travel with our tools and supplies in one space
And thanking another donor for giving in stride
We put Apostolate to the Handicap on the side

So trailer know you’re essential and ever used
In the work of our mission you have been infused
God will provide there is no need to be stressed.
So let’s hitch up and set out. Lord we are blessed!

From the Mission Field: “Serve local.”

Rottier 1

On Love Begins Here, the Core Team is blessed summer after summer with the opportunity to get to know the raddest middle and high school youth around. Really, they are the coolest kids. While LBH becomes a part of their lives, often we wonder how much of LBH is transferred back to their families. How do their parents understand the mission? What do they think about these local, life changing mission trips?

Today we are bringing you the words directly from a family, whose kids are near and dear to our hearts. (Their son is going to be our only SIXTH year missionary this summer, and the girls are long time missionaries, too!) Enjoy the read!

Rottier 3

“We feel very fortunate that our children have had the opportunity to be part of Love Begins Here. It has become the top event that our kids look forward to each summer. In a teenage world that is more and more about what possessions I have, and what I did for myself and can tell the world about on twitter, Love Begins Here shows teenagers the joy in doing for others. Today we hear a lot about local. Eat local. Shop local. LBH allows teenagers to serve local.”

Rottier 2

“LBH shows that good people can do right here, in our neighborhoods. There are people in need, all different types of need, right here and we see them every day at the library, the bus stop and the grocery store. In terms of summer activities for teens, LBH teaches teens to love God, to love others and to serve. Kids at LBH work hard, but they don’t even realize it because they are enjoying the company of other teens and the inspiring Core Team.”

“The Core Team is made up of great role models and my kids consider them rock stars.  We still hear stories about what Nicky or Bill said, and all my teens then dissolve into laughter. They go to daily Mass and confession with no thoughts of complaint at LBH. It really shows that hard work and doing for others are not things to “dread” or “get over with”, but they can be joyful and enriching activities. It isn’t necessary to leave the continent, or spend thousands of dollars traveling to do good in the world.”

Thanks for sharing Eric and Amy! We are blessed to have families like yours invested in the mission!

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!

From the Mission Field: Triduum

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As this Good Friday dawns, from the mission field and beyond, we would like wish you all a solemn remembrance of the Paschal Mystery in the coming days and all the joys of Easter.

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In case you want more to meditate on beyond the LBH Twitter account, enjoy this short reflection from soon-to-be Saint John Paul the Great’s Easter Vigil homily in 2000.

As she keeps watch on this Holy Night, the Church closely scrutinizes the texts of Sacred Scripture. They portray God’s plan from Genesis to the Gospel and, together with the liturgical rites of fire and water, give this remarkable celebration a cosmic dimension. The whole created universe is summoned to keep watch this night at the tomb of Christ. The history of salvation passes before our eyes, from Creation to the Redemption, from the Exodus to the Covenant on Mount Sinai, from the Old to the New and Eternal Covenant. On this Holy Night, God’s eternal plan reaches fulfilment, the plan which embraces the history of humanity and of the cosmos.

– Blessed John Paul II, Easter Vigil, 2000

From the Mission Field: Be The One

Be The One - 4x6, 1

Nicky, the LBH Intern, is diving into the #LBH2014 theme today on the blog. Enjoy!

You know that feeling after you’ve consumed a package each of Sour Patch Kids, Whoppers, and Peanut Butter M&Ms in the darkness of a movie theatre? Maybe you don’t possess my “6 year-old child like love of candy,” but the feeling is two part. I first wonder, “Who ate all my candy?” Then, like a sudden storm rolling in, I feel incredibly thirsty and proceed to drink about gallon of water. This ridiculous self-inflicted feeling pales in comparison to that of another. Hanging on the cross, shortly before his death, Jesus spoke the words “I thirst.” He had to be feeling physically thirsty as he suffered so, but there was an even greater thirst Christ was experiencing. Water couldn’t touch this.

The words “I thirst” can be seen beside each crucifix displayed in The Missionaries of Charity’s chapels. It is a reminder for them of a particular truth. Jesus thirsts for our love. You can walk away from Him, or you can respond with Mother Teresa, “I will be the one.” This summer, we will strive, through our LBH2014 theme, to “be the one.” We will fall deeper in love with Christ and love Him through the people we serve and are in community with, as each individual responds to His thirst.

The more we spend time with Christ, the more we will feed the thirst he has for our individual souls. Christ longs for each one of us, and this summer we will, “try in a special way to come as close as the human heart can come to the Heart of Jesus” (Mother Teresa). On our weeks of LBH, we will continue to build a life of prayer. Through prayer, Mass, Confession, adoration, and daily collatio, we will respond to Christ’s thirst for love.

It isn’t enough, however, to give Christ our love in prayer. He dwells in the hearts of all humankind, and we need to respond to his thirst visible in the needs and suffering of others. If we allow God to open our eyes we will see that, “the greatest evil [in the world] is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor” (Mother Teresa). This summer, through the service we do, we will work to restore the dignity of others and put our love for Christ into action.

It is a tall glass to fill (pun intended), but God has an incredible way of blessing the mission of Love Begins Here. We are praying for all the missionaries, chaperones, youth leaders, communities, and individuals being served this summer, as we all prepare and seek to be the one.