Lifeteen Resources + Training!!

Lifeteen Catholic Victor Hugo Inspiration Youth Ministry

Lifeteen is really leading the way in the hip Catholic youth ministry social media world. You can easily share via Facebook or Instagram what they are calling “daily inspiration“. Get on board; the images are full of beauty and truth! They also have a great blog with relevant, also conveniently shareable article relevant to teens, parents and those who work in the Church. You can check out all of them on their website. A few of our favorites from this week include Why Pray?, An Open Letter to My Sisters This Halloween and The Potential Problem with Pink. (We’re thinking that these links can make up for there being no official Wanderer Wednesday post yesterday!)

One thing that really stands out when you spend some time considering Lifeteen’s media outreach is that they understand how to talk with and to teens. Their posts are written with teens in mind, working to challenge the culture and provoke some positive, pure thoughts. Talk about a great movement in the New Evangelization!

If you are intrigued by all of this, are interested in learning about Lifeteen programs and curriculum or you just want to be the best you can be for the teens you work with, we have something wonderful to offer you. A group of awesome youth ministers in the Diocese have arranged for a day of training with a Lifeteen Staff Member! This one day event will cover best practices in youth ministry, including how best to lead a small group and the ins and outs of relational ministry. Come join us on Saturday, November 9th in Oregon!

You can find the poster and more information for this event here: Lifeteen Training Poster.

To register or ask questions, please e-mail Tiffany Topel at

And, for good measure, happy belated feast day to our patron, Blessed Pope John Paul II, via Lifeteen’s Instagram account!

Lifeteen JPII John Paul II Catholic Youth Ministry

Rejoice! Rejoice!

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind:
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

Happy Advent and Happy New Year, one and all. Thanks for stopping by Madison Catholic Youth’s blog today. In case you’ve been a faithful follower for quite a while, sorry for that draught we just experienced. November was quite the month. It was great seeing almost 100 great co-workers in the vineyard at Regional Gatherings in November, and we held our Unveiled retreats for the first time. (If you missed them, check out the facebook and twitter for a few little highlights. Though, we will get some on the blog soon, too.)

Back to this New Year in the Church we just began. In the name of resolutions, please find our plan for the blog this December. It promises to be a mix of reflection, happily awaited information, photographs and inspiration.

Calendar - Blog Smallest

From today until December 31st, we are promising a (week) daily update right here on these pages. Please enjoy.

To help you navigate this month, we’ll be linking up all of the December blog posts right here —

12 | 3 – Marian Advent Reflection
12 | 4 – LBH Theme Reveal: Come. Go.
12 | 5 – Guest Blogger: The God Who Waits
12 | 6 – St. John Bosco Day Announcement
12 | 7 – Film Contest Launch

12 | 10 – Frassati Fest – Catholic Herald, Part I
12 | 11 – Frassati Fest – Catholic Herald, Part II
12 | 12 – Frassati Fest on Twitter
12 | 13 – Frassati Fest Workshop Previews
12 | 14 – Frassati Fest – Keynote Speaker Surprise

12 | 17 – LOVE BEGINS HERE – Special, Part I
12 | 18 – LOVE BEGINS HERE – Special, Part II
12 | 19 – Cardinal Virtue Spotlight
12 | 20 – MYSTERY
12 | 21 – Lindsay’s Christmas Gift

12 | 24 – CHRISTMAS
12 | 25 – CHRISTMAS, Guest Blog
12 | 26 – New Evangelization, Part I
12 | 27 – New Evangelization, Part II
12 | 28 – New Evangelization, Part III

12 | 30 – New Evangelization, Part IV
12 | 31 – New Year’s Resolutions

March for Life Pilgrimage Updates!

We’re 70 days away from departing on our pilgrimage to Washington DC for the March for Life! To help celebrate, here are a few exciting bits of information and promotional aids.

First up — a little map of the great locations of our hotel and the location we got tickets to the Youth Rally for. As you can see, this will be great opportunity to stay in the heart of our nation’s capitol, be near to the action and make the most out of our time there.

Next up — enjoy the following facebook links to some Youth Rally information.

While we’re at it — a video from a March a couple years ago. It will give you a peek into what the pilgrimage will be like.

And — now that you can’t wait to come visit this page to get more information and register.

Be in touch with questions!

What does November hold?

To start, let’s spend a moment with Bl. MoT to gain a bit of inspiration.

If your November has been anything like mine so far, this is a fitting reminder. The days have been busy and I have found myself wishing I were a few days ahead on my to-do list.  Keeping our work focused on the Lord, in humble obedience, giving it everything we have and giving Him all the credit will have to be enough. Thanks Mother.

In other news, an e-mail will be coming out from me later today or early tomorrow (if you happen to be on my super wonderful MS/HS Parish outreach list) with a number of updates that you will not want to miss. However, in the meantime I wanted to share a few important notes and good sources of inspiration for this month of November.

First up, in case you missed it – the Frassati Fest webpage has been updated. Please go see what is new! (And, do not forget to check back tomorrow, as right here we will be debuting a super sweet promo video.)

Second, it is not too late to register for Unveiled. Get in touch if you would like to come. (And, I could still use a bunch of volunteers. Please consider volunteering this weekend or next.) By the way, how cool is the backdrop to the photo booth turning out?

Third, have you heard that we’re heading to the March for Life in January? Save your spot today!

Fourth, a little bonus for checking in today — a great role model and teacher of mine, shared that before every Thanksgiving meal with his family he reads this. Abraham Lincoln really got it right there. All thanks and gratitude goes back to the one who gave us life.

That’s all for today friends. Stay in touch, and you’ll be hearing from me soon!

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.

Easter Wisdom from Mr. Tebow

Happy Easter, blog readers! I hope you all have had a beautiful beginning to this most blessed season. I surely enjoyed the triduum masses, especially the Easter Vigil with our wonderful Bishop, a handful of other holy priests and the stateside seminarians of our Diocese.

Having Easter Monday off, I made my way to the gym this morning. Today, various ESPN channels were playing on four of the five screens in front of me, where I had the pleasure of watching Louis Oosthuizen sink his albatross again a handful of times. While I wasn’t glued to the screens, as I glanced upward once, I noticed this image on the screen.

And, if something can distract me in the midst of a workout, it’s likely an emotional human interest-sports story or Tim Tebow. This time, it was Tim who got my attention. I quickly changed my headphones from my tunes to the sportscasters recapping some comments Tim made while visiting an ecclesial community in Texas Easter morning. The hot topic of conversation was about whether Tim was right or not in holding his fellow athletes accountable to their place as role models — telling them they are wrong to insist they are not role models. Mr. Tebow responded, “Yes you are. You’re just not a good one.”

As a follower of JC, Tim Tebow is likely quite familiar with the end of Luke’s gospel. Shortly before his Ascension, Jesus tells his followers they have been witnesses of these things – the suffering, death and resurrection of their Lord – and they are meant to be proclaimed, so everyone would know about the good news of repentance. The idea of being good witnesses (read: role models) is not new to those who practice the Christian faith. But, to some living in the world it seems to be an option.

As the sportscasters debated this morning, a few of them were firm in their stance that being a role model was a matter of choice. At the same time, they could easily rattle off a list of sports heros of decades past who they had modeled baseball swings and more important aspects of their lives after. Their arguments fell apart right there — it seems being a role model is not a matter of choice. Human nature is such that we keep tabs on each other. We notice when someone says one thing and does another. As Pope Paul VI was fond of sharing, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

As this Easter season is now upon us, I think this provides a fitting point of reflection. How are we doing at this task of witnessing to the mysteries we just encountered? As the sportscasters pointed out this morning, it is impossible to be perfect — and perhaps that means the task is too difficult to embrace. Well, if we needed a reminder of what it looks like to do the impossible, let’s think back to Sunday morning. And, when it comes to trying to be perfect, yes it is difficult. Tim Tebow has embraced it — following Christ’s command in Matthew 5:48 with a whole lot of passion. Through the grace given to us in the Sacraments, we have all the strength we need. As Bishop Morlino reminded us on Saturday night, we need to remind ourselves every morning — we are baptized, confirmed and have received the greatest gift of the Eucharist. That is all we need to be capable of loving one another.

To inspire us even more, the Holy Father happens to preach on the importance of witness quite often, as he did right before Lent kicked off this past February:

May our loyalty to Christ be firm and unfaltering in order to make our witness credible. Our society, which is experiencing moments of uncertainty and doubt, needs the clarity of Christ. May every Christian bear witness to him with faith and courage.

Let’s keep on our hearts the concluding words of the Exultet, as we live — shining brightly the light of Christ — this Easter season: May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death’s domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Hipsters go to Confession, too.

Editor’s Note: Seminarian Bill VanWagner is at it again. Enjoy this timely Lenten hipster reflection.

I took up a new hobby recently that is really, really awesome. I started collecting and listening to vintage vinyl records. It is like the most hip thing possible right now. Vinyl records are awesome for a lot of reasons. Only artists who really actually care about the music they make will take the time and money to release their stuff on vinyl. And, only fans and listeners who are truly committed to appreciating the beauty of the art will bear the inconvenience to listen to them. Plus, vinyl records sound so much better than playing MP3’s through cheap computer speakers. Seriously.

In order to play vinyl records, you need a turntable, a receiver/amplifier, and a set of stereo speakers. The thing is, the modern versions of these pieces of equipment are a joke. Their ugly, tacky, and wicked expensive. Thus, Craigslist, thrift stores, and creepy hippy stores are the place to look for classic used equipment. If you’re lucky, you may find an estate sale where you could buy grandma’s old dust-filled stereo on which she listened to Puff the Magic Dragon, Frank Sinatra, and other hits back in her glory day.

The one problem is that this equipment often needs some maintenance. Stuff gets old, it falls apart. When I purchased my stereo from a collection of different people off of Craigslist, I really had no idea what to expect. I saw some pictures and whatnot, but pictures lie. Turns out, I got a pretty okay deal. Turntable was working fine, speakers were alright, but the receiver was in rough shape.

In order to fix this thing, I had to take it all apart. Since it was made in the 70’s, before people were into being efficient with things, there was like a million screws to be taken off just to even see the inside. Once I got in, I sprayed this awesome dust obliterating spray all over which essentially burns away all the dust inside this thing. I’m pretty sure this stuff would also obliterate your eyes, skin, and probably your bones too–it’s pretty awesome.

Bill's Lovely Record Player

Then, after that, the next step was to repair any damages to the wire connections in the interior. Essentially, wires are connected to other wires, plugs, or boards by this meltable, formable metal called solder. In order to fix bad connections, I had to melt the solder using a soldering iron, rip the wire from where it was connected, heat the components with the iron, apply new solder, and remake the connection. Basically, its a painful process for the poor little receiver, but in the end, it sounds amazing.

This is so much like how God’s mercy works in our lives, especially during this awesome season of Lent. We come to God as imperfect, slightly broken, damaged beings. We have a little dust deep within our souls. Our connections are weak and damaged.

It would be really nice to say that God’s mercy works like a magic waterfall of skittles and unicorns where we just feel really cute and nice and happy because God loves us so much and we are like magic eagles that can soar to the heights of rainbows. #sorrynotsorry, but that is not always the case. Sometimes God’s mercy is a bit painful. It always hurts to recall moments of failure and sin. The realization of our own sinfulness in light of God’s great glory is a painful process of self-understanding and humility. We feel the hot metal iron of Jesus’ mercy melting away the bad stuff, ripping it apart, and putting it back together the right way.  The amazing thing about this process of mercy is that, because Jesus obviously knows what is best for us, we come out with a deeper relationship with God and are enabled to live a much holier life than before. The pain is totally worth it.

My advice: take this season of Lent as an opportunity to let Jesus do a little dirty, painful repair work in your soul. Use your Lenten practice/sacrifice as a reminder of the pain of conversion and necessity for reliance on God’s providence. Most importantly, go to Confession. The Sacrament of Confession is the ultimate spiritual fix-me-up. This is where Jesus does the heating, melting, ripping, dust-obliterating, and rebuilding that our  soul truly needs. Finally, always remember that, just like Lent, the pain of conversion and holiness is always followed by the incredible joy and peace of the Resurrection. With our eyes firmly fixed on Our Lord’s absolute domination of death, we can bear any pain this silly world has to offer, just beastin’ our way to Heaven.

And if you want to be really cool, find your parents old record player and get that thing spinning again.

Boat Shoes, Hipsters and Holiness

Editor’s note: Here’s another post from Madison Seminarian, Bill Van Wagner. Enjoy the inspiration.

Everybody knows you can tell a hipster by his or her clothes. That sort of “I don’t really care about how I look, but actually I really do because everything I’m wearing was pretty expensive even though it looks really cheap because it’s dirty and has holes in it” image is vital to being an authentic hipster. One of the most important parts of this look is the shoes. It’s all about the kicks. You can really tell a lot about a person by their shoes. For a Catholic Hipster, shoes are sup(er) important. Here’s why:

Catholics (like most other human beings) wear shoes a lot, to a huge variety of different places. Home, school, the mall, the movies, Mass, and other places that have a no shoes, no shirt, no service sign.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a shoe that could go to all those places and totally fit in? A pair of shoes you could wear at school with blue jeans and a tee shirt; a pair of shoes comfortable enough to wear around the house; a pair of shoes that look nice enough to wear out with your friends; a pair of shoes classy enough to wear to Mass because it’s super holy and super important and Jesus really deserves our very best; that would be a great pair of shoes.

This pair of shoes would also have to pretty sturdy. In the Gospel, when Jesus sends out his followers in pairs of two to preach to the nations, they didn’t hop a cab, catch the nearest bus, or wait for mom to drive them, they straight up walked wherever they had to go. Jesus told them to wear sandals. You could take that literally if you want, I suppose. But, thanks be to God, as Catholics we don’t really read the Bible literally like that, so maybe there’s some room for interpretation.

Bill's Newest Boat Shoes

Here’s the great news — this pair of everything shoes actually do exist. Boat shoes, kids. Boat shoes are the bees knees. Boat shoes are classy, casual, stylish, comfy as heck, cool enough to wear to school, good enough for the mall, nice enough for Jesus, and they’re sturdy enough to walk for miles. Plus, you can be like Jesus since He was always in and out of boats helping those foolish fishermen catch like thousands of fish and calming the storms because when you’re the Son of God, you can do that kind of thing. Boat shoes really do have it all. I personally think I have a couple of the greatest pairs of boat shoes every made, but I might be biased.

Saint Francis of Assisi (a total hipster) once said that “it is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our preaching is our walking.” Boom. Well said, Saint Francis. To be a good, holy Catholic, you have to walk the walk. It’s not enough to say nice things, pray when you need help with something, and go to Mass every once in a while. While those things are bad, you gotta get some pep in that step! To be Catholic is to live this radically different lifestyle in which the pleasures of the world are sacrificed for the greater glory of Jesus and His Church. To be a Catholic trying to be holy, you have to pray from the depths of your heart, love the image of God in each and every person you see, and seek to do the Father’s will in all things. That seems impossible? Yeah, well, just talking about it isn’t going to make it any less impossible, homie. And that’s the great thing about holiness, its a way of life, a journey — you travel along the way, growing closer to the Lord with every step.

My advice: Go buy a super awesome pair of boat shoes, christen them as your Catholic Hipster boat shoes — maybe even take a sharpie and write your favorite Bible verse inside the shoe. Then, every time you wear them and look down at your feet, you’ll be reminded of the lifestyle you’re trying to live. Maybe that will remind you to say a few Hail Mary’s, or remind you to say prayer of thanks for the gifts you received today, or remind you to be kind and loving and smile at everyone you meet. Case in point: Boat shoes make you more like Jesus.

#resrally2012 Recap, Number One

This past weekend, over 200 young people and some rockstar adults gathered at Chula Vista to enjoy a weekend at the waterpark, grow in holiness and learn about all of the things that the Lord CALLS the young people to.

Top moments of the weekend include:
– NOT YET rocking the house as keynote speakers.
– Incredible testimonies by Aly, Nick and Carley. What inspiring young people!
– A line for Confession over 100 young people long.
– Great conversation, good food, and super fast water slides.

Check out these photos from the weekend from General Sessions & Adoration…
 … and all of the fun the young people had together.

We’re still in the process of breaking down highlights from the Keynote Speakers, but Pope Benedict summed up the message pretty well on Sunday morning!

Look forward to two more updates in the next week, and perhaps the first guest blogger to appear on Madison Catholic Youth! Any guesses as to who it may be? (He loves the Lord, the youth of the Diocese and not all that long ago was one of them himself!)


Our personal encounter with Christ bathes life in new light, sets us on the right path, and sends us out to be his witnesses. This new way of looking at the world and at people, which comes to us from him, leads us more deeply into the mystery of faith, which is not just a collection of theoretical assertions to be accepted and approved by the mind, but an experience to be had, a truth to be lived, the salt and light of all reality. – Bl. Pope John Paul II, Message to the Youth, 2002