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

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: 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: Introducing the LBH Intern

We are introducing a new Friday series to the blog featuring stories, memories, announcements and more From the Mission Field of Love Begins Here. Enjoy meeting Nicky the intern today!

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If anyone saw my introduction video from this past summer, you know that I excel at introducing myself, or at least being interviewed on camera. See this link. You only need to watch 00:35 – 00:48, and that should give you a shining example of my abilities.

However, I was asked to introduce myself for a new role I have been blessed to start for Love Begins Here. Hi, I’m Nicky Kaehler. I teach second grade in Sauk City at St. Al’s, and I live in Middleton. I am overjoyed to say that I am the LBH spring intern, a position sponsored in part by the generosity of a grant through the Apostolate to the Handicapped!

Whenever you start a new endeavor in life, there is a natural inclination to have a “dear diary moment” as you reflect on how you got to this point. For me it was the summer of 2010. My awesome roommate, Lindsay Becher (Superhero Starter of LBH), asked if I wanted to volunteer for the HS1 trip. I had already heard so many beautiful things; I said absolutely. I arrived on Sunday with my sleeping bag, tennis shoes, and an open heart. LBH took me in and made a home in my heart.

That week I experienced beautiful, authentic, Catholic community. Every day we woke up and started our day with mass. That was the coolest thing, to be tired from the day/night before and telling Jesus, “I can’t do this day without you.” He in return provided the Eucharist and the grace needed to live that day for Him. As we set out in the morning for our work sites, the air was already filled with singing and laughter. When we all rolled in at the end of the day, we were dirty, sweaty, and tired, but that same joy could be heard. It was wonderful to unwind, pray a rosary, and share a meal with these young people who are an incredible witness to God’s love. Each night we shared hilarious stories from the day. Then we would get to hear how others saw God in their day. All of this happened in the midst of having crazy amounts of fun, going on random adventures, jamming out to tunes in the car, and celebrating life the way God intended.


So, while my body might have been running on empty, my soul was so full. I just wanted more! I wanted to love God by serving his people in a way that was more life encompassing and less isolated. I wanted to be surrounded by these joyful inspiring young people, but I had to start my summer job. For the two days leading up to my nannying position, this was my conversation with God: “Lord, I know you want me here, but I really want to be on LBH. Help me.” Come Sunday, my start day, I showed up to start nannying. I was greeted with the news that they thought I was starting the following week. Oh happy day! I immediately called Lindsay and was back on LBH that afternoon.

I’ve been blessed to be a core team member these past three summers. In that time, the Lord has used this program to challenge everything I am, and mold me into who I am supposed to be. He’s allowed me to share my gifts, and I am humbled and grateful.  I knew last summer was my last core team summer (I still plan on volunteering), and I was already aching at the thought of missing out this summer. Yet again God hears and answers the cry of this heart. While working as a barista saving money for a trip to Rome this summer, Lindsay approached me about being an intern. I would be working to promote LBH, prepare things for the summer, and put out the word on social media. No brainer. This was perfect! I would get to work for a program I love, behind the scenes, so that Lindsay could spend more time developing and expanding the program as she felt God calling her to do.

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So here I am, your LBH intern, happy to answer emails, doing work that I love, getting ready for another amazing summer! Praise God!

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.

Frassati Fest – Register today!

Pete Quote - Blog

Ask an average high school student about the level of stress they face in their lives, and he or she would have a lot to say. Teens may be stressed about finals approaching or drama with friends, and problems within the family or how much pressure there is to live up to the expectations of coaches, teachers and the world.

That is likely not what St. Catherine had in mind when she penned those famous words about setting the world ablaze. Young people in their teenage years are supposed to be joyful, optimistic, full of plans for the future and, whether or not they appreciate hearing it, still kids.

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With Frassati Fest fast approaching, the youth of our Diocese are going to have an opportunity to embrace everything their young lives have to offer – meeting hundreds of new friends, having a blast at a water park and being inspired to live out the dreams that the Lord has put in their hearts. At Frassati Fest, they will have a chance to revive the fire and set the world ablaze.

Frassati Fest includes three keynotes by Pete Burds (an incredible speaker, musician and campus minister from the Milwaukee area), music, laughter, lots of good food, plenty of time in the waterpark, Adoration, Confession, the Holy Mass and a chance to get away from your day to day life.

This weekend with life changing potential will take place January 31 – February 2 at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. To register or learn more about it, please visit www.tinyurl.com/frassatifest. Teens can register with their Parish or as individuals to be chaperoned by the Camp Gray staff!

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In case you’re curious, the following are the Parishes who have teens registered!
Baraboo, St. Joseph
Beloit, Our Lady of Assumption
Cross Plains, St. Francis Xavier
Fort Atkinson, St. Joseph
Green Lake, St. Mary of the Lake
Jefferson, St. John the Baptist
Lodi and Dane, Blessed Trinity
McFarland, Christ the King
Middleton, St. Bernard
Oregon, Holy Mother of Consolation
Stoughton, St. Ann
Sun Prairie, Sacred Hearts
Sun Prairie, St. Albert
Waunakee, St. John the Baptist


New Evangelization Movie

This summer, one of the coolest bands around was Rend Collective Experiment. From Camp Gray to Love Begins Here, teens sang along and fell for this band encouraging them to build the kingdom here. A number of the lyrics in the song Movements really seem to capture what we are seeing as a growing trend in the Diocese: more teens are devotedly, passionately loving the Lord and their Catholic faith.

I’m running fast and free to You
You are the movement and fight in me
I’m Running fast and free to You
You are my home 
Where I wanna be

We know the sad, alarming statistics about our young adult faithful, most of all knowing that only about 10% of Catholic college students are attending Mass on a regular basis. However, those young people who are living out their faith, fighting for what they believe and choosing to live God are a real source of hope.

As our teens grow and transition into adulthood, they are faced with choices about what their futures hold, especially in regards to how they are going to live their Catholic identity. We do not have any magic recipes for how this is going to happen, though we do know the ingredients: giving our teens an opportunity to encounter Jesus in a life changing way, providing engaging Catechesis, allowing them to experience community life and helping them develop a life of prayer.

To help the priests of our Diocese understand just powerful these apostolates can be for our youth and their power to transform lives, we produced the following video to share with them at the annual priest assembly.

Enjoy. Share. Watch it again.

Let’s help our youth run fast and free to the Lord!

Theme, Dates and a Location, Oh My!

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This past weekend, we had an incredible meeting with the Frassati Fest Planning Team! A total of 23 rock star youth and 5 youth ministers joined together to vision and plan for this year’s event. We had deep discussions and shared many laughs as we settled on a theme for the 2014 Frassati Fest. We would like to share with you what we have selected.

REKINDLE: Reviving the Fire
“For he is like the refiner’s fire.” – The Prophet Malachi

We were all very moved by the concept of fire, how the Lord acts in our lives as the refiner’s fire continually making us into who we are meant to be, and how we are given the ability to share this spark with the world to set our peers, communities and world on fire for God! Tessa also shared the following quote, which is going to help set the stage for the event.

“If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire”
– St. Catherine of Siena

Get excited for this year’s Frassati Fest, and help us to spread the word!

January 31 – February 2
at our BRAND NEW location
The Kalahari Resort!

In Gratitude


As the official start to this fifth year of Love Begins Here is about to dawn on us in a few, short days, I find myself thinking back on that inaugural summer, and in particular, our very first week. We were mighty green back on June 21, 2009, as those 20-something teens joined us along with a handful of enthusiastic, willing chaperones, ready to embrace the adventure of a local mission trip. All in all, it was one incredibly beautiful and truly life changing week.

One of the memories that is impressed most firmly in my mind is of the noon Mass we attended with Msgr. Ganshert at the Bishop O’Connor Center. When he heard that there were youth there from Love Begins Here, which is inspired by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he centered his homily around her example and did so much through his words to inspire us as missionaries. As he preached, he directed our attention to the north side of the chapel, where you can gaze upon an incredible stained glass image of our beautiful patroness.


It was an inspiring moment and one that really set the stage for how important she would be in the journey of the past four years.

While we were focused on that Bl. Mother Teresa window, I did not think to spend much time looking to the south, to gaze upon the window there. To be honest, at that time the window, dedicated to the Apostolate to the Handicapped, did not mean a great deal to me, as I did not understand the scope and importance of their work.


Years later, having worked with nearly 700 teens and completed over 16,000 hours of service to our communities, I look at this chapel and these windows in a much different way.

I have realized that Love Begins Here, Bl. Mother Teresa and the Apostolate all share the exact same mission – to spread the love of Christ into ones home, community and throughout the world through acts of love and charity. However, our connection now runs even deeper than that.

This past spring, Love Begins Here was a humble recipient of a very generous grant from the Apostolate to the Handicapped. This grant is helping to make possible the continued success of Love Begins Here, by helping to support the staff that runs it, the missionaries who cannot afford to join us otherwise and the tools we need to keep in stock and up to date, in order to complete our work effectively.

In light of this grant, on this day and into the future, we are grateful for many things. First, for the great legacy of Msgr. Campion, the founder of the Apostolate, which is one of service and dedication to those who our society far too often neglects and does not remember to love. Also, for the generosity of so many who have contributed to the Apostolate over the past many years, making this grant possible. And certainly, for Father Bakke, the current director of the Apostolate, for investing not only in Love Begins Here (and opening wide the doors to his Parish to host us during the summer), but also in me, beginning in the months when Love Begins Here was an unnamed thought and a seemingly far off dream. Lastly, for all of those brave and enthusiastic missionaries who have joined us through the years and those who have yet to come; without you, this work would not be done and our little corner of the world in the Diocese of Madison would be a bit less bright.

Please join us in saying a prayer of thanksgiving and ask God to abundantly bless Love Begins Here and all of those who support our work, especially the Apostolate to the Handicapped.

Here’s to 5, 10 and many more successful summers.

– Lindsay, LBH Mission Director