Junior-high students revel in 15-hour lock-in with baptism theme
In this article, the youth religious education and ministry coordinator at St. Stanislaus parish in Wardsville recounts a recent junior-high lock-in her parish hosted on the subject of baptism.
By Chelle Smith-Vandergriff
Early in school, we learn about the waters of our baptism. Most commonly, we recount this information in textbooks, and some courageous teachers even design games and activities to help us learn more about our initial sacrament. Reminders of our baptism are brought up during our preparation for first reconciliation and First Holy Communion, and again at confirmation. Baptism is something so basic and fundamental to our faith that almost anyone of any age can tell you what it means. But do we ever really get it?
Very seldom are we given the opportunity to truly experience those sights, sounds, smells and garments of our induction into the Catholic Church. Father Joseph Corel has found a way to turn such an opportunity into a reality by designing for our diocese a junior-high lock-in centered on baptism.
The junior-high baptism lock-in is specifically designed with pre-teens and young teen-agers in mind, knowing that three basic criteria are required for a successful youth event: It must be fun, it must be co-ed, and it must be cheap. What separates this lock-in from other options - and what makes it so appropriate for Catholic teens (aside from the fact that it is entirely centered on Catholic baptismal practices) - is that it also includes exposure to the other sacraments. Not only are there games and activities, food and fellowship, but the junior-high participants also receive Holy Communion during a Mass prepared just for them.
They get an opportunity to reconnect with God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and they get to experience firsthand what the word vocation means by getting to know Fr. Corel. While the core theme for the lock-in is baptism, exposure to the ministry side of Priesthood is what tends to get the young people excited.
How often do junior-high students have homilies especially catered to their needs? How often do priests encourage water games at 2 a.m. on school property? How often do priests devote 15 hours straight to one group of teens, specifically for their amusement?
Parish priests have busy schedules, ministering to such a wide range of ages and needs and filling so many roles that it is hard to devote that amount of time to the youth. We have such a wonderful resource here in the Diocese of Jefferson City with Fr. Joe and the Diocesan Vocation Office, who are willing and capable to devote that time and energy into our parish youth programs.
By simply calling the Vocation Office to schedule a date, agreeing to supply the (very modest) materials needed for the lock-in, and providing the appropriate number of adult chaperones for the event, nearly every parish can host a junior-high lock-in.
Nothing to it
Earlier this school year, St. Stanislaus parish in Wardsville hosted a lock-in for our parish eighth-graders. We enlisted the help of our eighth-grade parents (and some older siblings) as chaperones, dividing the 15-hour lock-in into four shifts. Most of the supplies were already on hand, and those that had to be purchased were souvenirs for the kids to take home.
We asked each person to bring two 2-liter bottles of soda and a snack to share, which supplied us with nearly all the necessary food and provided an inexpensive youth event that appealed to parents and teens alike. The only food purchases made were pizza dinner and s'more stuff for the bonfire.
The cost was well worth the positive feedback from our eighth-grade class and parents.
Thank you, Fr. Joe, for all of your hard work in promoting vocations through our diocese and for your passion and desire to minister to our youth.