Author Archives: Chris Johnson

    Food for the Soul: God’s Plan for You

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    This month, Fr. Jack shared his reflections on how God has a plan for each and everyone of us. This wonderful plan is not only in the big, lifelong vocation but in the everyday and how calls us to seek this plan continually. Check out the video below!

    Happy Thanksgiving from Youth Apostles!

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    We pray that you have a blessed day. Remember that all gifts come from God and we thank Him for the countless blessings in our lives.

    Food for the Soul: Heaven: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    Every 2nd Friday of the month, we have Food for the Soul. We begin with Mass at 7 AM, breakfast, and then a reflection on a variety of topics. This morning, Fr. Jack Peterson led us in a discussion of the Church’s teachings on who is to enter Heaven. This event is open for all those who wish for their soul’s to be fed. Our next one is December 12th!

    Check out the video and Subscribe to our Youtube channel!


    Gluttony, Addiction, and Intent

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    This article is by Josh Schubert, a Substance Abuse Counselor for Fairfax County Youth and Family Services. He is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He recently addressed the Youth Apostles Full Members in July on Drugs and Addiction as part of our monthly formation.


    John 10:10 “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.”


                    The problem with drugs is not that they feel good, it is the opposite. The more you use drugs the more you feel less pleasure to the point that only intoxication feels good or normal. Feeling less pleasure, leads to craving what will give you the most pleasure, the intoxication. As the addiction progresses the individual’s value system changes and the focus of life becomes the intoxication. The individual becomes not addicted to any one type of drug, but to the intoxication. Almost all drugs of addiction look the same in the brain’s pleasure response, the part that becomes addicted.

    God intended for us to have each emotion for a reason, pleasure is no different. Pleasure is supposed to move us to do more of something, like eat yummy apples. The problem with drugs is that they are so pleasurable that the brain becomes overstimulated. The brain then adapts to overstimulation (Tolerance) and the result is a brain that is numb to pleasure. Like all sin, such as gluttony, it is a distortion of the good and natural. Thomas Aquinas said of gluttony: “Gluttony denotes not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate (excessive) desire.”

    It is more likely today that a teenager will smoke marijuana, than drink alcohol or smoke a cigarette. Marijuana is the most widely abused drug by teens and a common rebuttal from teens about smoking and legalizing marijuana is that alcohol is legal, more dangerous, and just as intoxicating. As the culture begins to legalize marijuana (19 states and counting) the Church will need to come up with a definitive answer about the differences of alcohol vs. marijuana and other drugs.

    I believe it boils down to intention. Matthew 15:11 “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” People can morally drink alcohol for social enjoyment and health benefits (Yes, there are health benefits). If the intention of drinking alcohol is intoxication then the action becomes immoral; in addition, while intoxicated they lose ability to reason and harm their body’s health. The only reason people use marijuana, beside legitimate medical use, is to become intoxicated. Addiction can become immoral when the values change, placing intoxication before God, health, and others.

    G.K. Chesterton from his book Orthodoxy: “We should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them.”


    • YouCat: 352,  1st Commandment
    • YouCat: 389, Drugs are a sin due to the self-destructive nature…
    • CCC: 1731-1738, Freedom and Responsibility
    • CCC: 2288-2291, Respect for health


    Spiritual Directors

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    YES!!! We have a long-awaited list of potential Spiritual Directors, suggested by many of our brothers.  Like the list says, it is not exhaustive, but it is a great place to start with 30 priests listed.  If anyone has any other stellar priests to suggest, we hope this list will be a working list, with new names added at the suggestions of our brothers.  If you do not have a spiritual director, get rollin’!

    Below is the link!




    Youth Apostles Institute to lead campus ministry efforts at Virginia Tech

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    YAman_newThe Youth Apostles Institute has accepted an invitation from the Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, the bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, to lead the Catholic campus ministry at Virginia Tech. The appointment will go into effect June 1, 2013.

    Rev. David M. Sharland, YA, who has served as the chaplain and director of the campus ministry at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, since July 2007, has been named the new director of campus ministry for Virginia Tech’s Newman Community.

    Chris Hitzelberger, a Full Member in Youth Apostles who has coordinated the parish youth ministry programs at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia, since June 2004, joins Father Sharland as the assistant director of campus ministry.

    “It is with great joy and gratitude to God, that we announce this appointment,” said Rev. John P. Peterson, YA, the general director of the Youth Apostles Institute. “We are honored by the invitation to take on this important ministry that serves the large Catholic student population of such an outstanding university and we look forward to the opportunity to assist the Church in bringing Christ to the students, faculty and staff at Virginia Tech.

    “We are also most grateful to Father John Grace for the years of generous and dedicated service to the Catholic community at Virginia Tech.”

    The McLean, Virginia-based Youth Apostles Institute is a mixed association of the Christian faithful whose 80 Full Members and Candidates are committed to evangelize, teach, advise, challenge, console and love young people with the ultimate purpose of inspiring them to live Christ-like lives centered on prayer and the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Youth Apostles Full Members lead the diocesan youth ministry offices in Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses. Others are responsible for youth ministry programs at six parishes in Virginia and the campus ministry programs at Marymount University, George Mason University, Old Dominion University and Christopher Newport University.

    The Norfolk Blog: The March … with a little perspective

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    Sometimes you don’t know how good you have it until . . . well . . . until you don’t have it any more. This was one of the conclusions I drew from this year’s March for Life, once I had recovered from it and was thinking clearly again.

    There was a great turnout for the March For Life events from the Richmond Diocese. The Office for Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults coordinated buses, tickets (to the morning and evening Rallies for Life), dinner, and a prayer service for several hundred college, high school and middle school students. An energetic and enthusiastic crowd gathered at the PatriotCenter in Fairfax for the morning Rally and Mass. It was exciting to hear a great roar rise from our section of the stands when Bishop DiLorenzo was introduced!

    Thanks to the wise planning on the part of the diocesan youth office – and some good luck – all three of our current Youth Apostles ministries in the Hampton Roads area (campus ministries from CNU and ODU and the high school youth group from Blessed Sacrament) shared a bus to and from the March for Life events. Six Youth Apostles on one bus from the Richmond Diocese: that has to be a first! More on the bus ride in a moment.

    Bishops celebrate the Mass for Life at the Patriot Center on Jan. 25.

    Bishops celebrate the Mass for Life at the Patriot Center on Jan. 25.

    The March for Life is always filled with inspiring moments, and this year didn’t disappoint. I am always touched by the opening procession for the Mass at the morning Rally; the seminarians, the priests, the bishops – so many bishops! It’s amazing to see so many people at the March. Every year I make it a point to turn around and look over my shoulder when I get the top of Capitol Hill. After walking behind that huge crowd to reach that point I’m always convinced we must be at the rear of the group, but every year I’m amazed to see the crowd still stretches all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue and bends back out of sight towards the Mall.

    This is all in the midst of predictable weather – predictable in that you know it will be bad! This year we had frigid temperatures and snow (I think last year was cold and rainy? – it all starts to run together). Our intern at ODU, Julie, is from Florida and had never been in falling snow before. We made sure she caught a snowflake on her tongue and we got plenty of pictures of Snowy Julie for facebook – if you’re going to be outside for several hours in winter weather in a slow moving crowd you might as well have some fun.

    When I lived in Northern Virginia there were several years when I was not attached to a youth group and I was able to slip down to the March on my own. I remember at least one occasion when I woke up at the regular time, went to work for a few hours, then slipped out and drove to the Metro to catch a train to the Mall for the afternoon. Ah, those were the days.

    Which brings me back to our bus. Things require a little more planning when you live several hours from D.C. In order to arrive in Fairfax in time for the morning Rally, our bus left Blessed Sacrament in Norfolk at 4:45 a.m. In order to get 17 sleepy college students there on time we met them at the CCM house on campus at 4:00 a.m. Don’t doubt there were some serious discussions the night before about the merits of staying up all night versus getting what amounted to a nap.  Fortunately it was a wonderful double-decker bus. The ride up was rather quiet (as you might expect), but on the ride back we all watched October Baby on the video screens. We arrived back in Norfolk at 2 a.m. to find two inches of snow on the ground — more than they got in D.C.!  And with that our 22-hour March for Life marathon came to an end.

    The March was a great event for our students. They were inspired by the events of the day and returned with renewed resolve to stand up for life. But only after getting some well-deserved rest.

    Chip Snyder, YA, is the director of the Youth Apostles community in Norfolk, Virginia.

    YA Retreat 2013 – The Most Urgent Challenge

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    Pope Benedict XVI has told the U.S. bishops that the faith formation of the next generation of American Catholics must be their highest priority – not just passing on knowledge but shaping hearts. Speaking during this year’s retreat about “The Call to Youth Apostles,” Father Jack Peterson, YA, recalled the Holy Father’s message to the bishops who visited him last year in Rome.

    The text below first appeared as a Director’s Corner in the May 2012 issue of Youth Apostles’ newsletter, The Apostle.

    + + +

    The bishops of the United States have been traveling to Rome for their “ad limina” visits.

    Youth Apostles General Director Father Jack Peterson, YA, addresses the brothers on retreat.

    Youth Apostles General Director Father Jack Peterson, YA, addresses the brothers on retreat.

    These visits, which take place every five years, serve a variety of purposes. The bishops make a pilgrimage to the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul, express their respect for and solidarity with the Holy Father, render an accounting of the state of their diocese to the Bishop of Rome, visit with the heads of various Congregations and Dicasteries and receive counsel from the pope.

    During a visit on May 5, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the faith formation of the next generation of Catholics in the United States. Pope Benedict raised the matter to the highest level of priority when he stated: “It is no exaggeration to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country.”

    I read this and understood it as a loud call to Youth Apostles to step up our game as we strive to live out our mission to “evangelize, teach, advise, challenge, console and love youth with the ultimate purpose of inspiring them to live Christ-like lives centered on prayer and the sacraments in the Catholic Church.”

    Now, forming young people in the faith has always been a major priority for the Church. As the Holy Father went on to say: “The deposit of faith is a priceless treasure which each generation must pass on to the next by winning hearts to Jesus Christ and shaping minds in the knowledge, understanding and love of his Church.”

    Yet, as the Chief Shepherd of the Universal Church further explained, “the essential task of authentic education at every level is not simply that of passing on knowledge, essential as this is, but also of shaping hearts. There is a constant need to balance intellectual rigor in communicating effectively, attractively and integrally, the richness of the Church’s faith with forming the young in the love of God, the praxis of Christian moral and sacramental life and, not least, the cultivation of personal and liturgical prayer.”

    Youth Apostles was founded with the purpose of addressing this aspect of faith formation. We desire to shape the hearts of young people by building healthy, appropriate relationships with them, journeying with them through the turbulent years of adolescence and inviting them to come to know, love and serve Jesus Christ with all of their hearts.

    It is so much easier for young people to hear and respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ when their faith is shared by adults who live it authentically, take the time to get to know them, show genuine interest in their lives and patiently encourage perseverance as they grow closer to the Lord. In this setting, young people begin to desire to pray on their own, to root their lives in the Scriptures, to study the teachings of the Church, to attend the Sacraments regularly, to live the high moral standards of the Gospels and to serve their neighbor with generosity.

    How do we as Youth Apostles step up our game to better address “the most urgent internal challenge” of the American Church?

    First, we need to make sure that Jesus is truly the center of our lives. We need to become men of deep faith, truly transformed by the love of Christ. We need to live Christ-like lives of profound charity, strong conviction and extraordinary patience. We need to be men who are willing to sacrifice many aspects of our own lives in order to live generously for our brothers in community, our family members and the young people whom we serve.

    Next, we must be strongly committed to the great project of our relational ministry so that we can fight through the many challenges of our culture and assist God in opening the hearts of young people to the joy and strength that comes from following Christ.

    This commitment demands time, energy and prayer. It requires more than just showing up for a youth group meeting and preparing a talk. It entails coming early, staying late and engaging in meaningful conversations about things that matter to young people. It includes remembering your last conversation with them and following up on it at the next meeting. It demands going to an occasional game, concert or play, or at least asking about them afterwards if you can’t.

    Such genuine interest paves the way for being able to share with the students the blessing of knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ. They are willing to listen because they know you care and you are genuine. This is often the way Jesus Himself served the people He encountered.

    Please pray for us in Youth Apostles. Pray that each member of our community will renew his commitment to grow in holiness, engage in intentional, relational ministry, and open young hearts to the pearl of great price, life lived in union with Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church. Pray that God sends more men to join us in our mission.

    Father Jack Peterson, YA

    The Norfolk Blog: Full House

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    Father Mike Kuhn, YA, and I arrived in Norfolk about 19 months ago, on the first day of June 2011, and the Norfolk community of Youth Apostles was born. The following Tuesday night we held our first community meeting. I knew we were starting a community from scratch in Hampton Roads, but had no idea what to expect or how long it would take. Six men attended that first meeting; three full members (Father Mike, me and Joe Clem – a lifetime full-member who has lived in nearby Newport News for many years), two candidates who were home on college break, and a guest (one of their high school friends).

    The Norfolk Youth Apostles at Christmas: Father Mike Kuhn, Chip Snyder, Ben Fleser and Andrew DeCelle.

    The Norfolk Youth Apostles at Christmas: Father Mike Kuhn, Chip Snyder, Ben Fleser and Andrew DeCelle.

    A quick scan of the room during our most recent community meeting last Tuesday night gave me a bit of a thrill to see how much we’ve grown. You need to understand, our meetings over college breaks are always a hodgepodge. We have several college guys from Hampton Roads who attend year round, including the four men who made candidate commitments in Norfolk over the past year. However, several of our “regulars” during the school year travel back home over break and are out of range. But some guys who are home from college — mostly George Mason University — drop in, and invite their friends to join us. We really never know who will show up!

    We also had a few special guests last Tuesday. Chris Maimone, a lifetime full member from Fairfax, paid us a visit after delivering his daughter to Christopher Newport University for her spring semester. Three of our members from GMU were home, and they invited two other Mason students from Virginia Beach to stop by. We also had a guest priest — a friend of Youth Apostles who is the pastor of a local parish — covering for Father Mike while he attended a campus ministry conference in Florida. In total, we had 15 men attending at least part of the meeting. It was a full house!

    And that’s when it occurred to me: This is what we envisioned two years ago when we decided to move to Norfolk to begin the ministry at Old Dominion University. We have a great mix of men participating, whether you look at it by vocation ( the group includes priests, consecrated men and lay men) or commitment (full members, candidates, guests). We have members dropping in when they are in the area, we have guests who are interested in learning more about Youth Apostles, and we have developed friendly relationships with local clergy and other youth workers. We are firing on all cylinders!

    Not to imply that our work here is now done. We’re only getting started! Our mission is to lead young people to Christ and help them fall in love with the Church. But as a satellite community it’s impossible not to compare ourselves with our main community house in McLean. By several measures we already compare well to the “home office” (as we like to call it down here!).

    This Tuesday night (1/15) will mark the first meeting of the Spring semester, and we’ll be getting back to “normal.” The quotes are appropriate: college students are a busy bunch, and we’ve never had the same group of men two weeks in a row! I’ve enjoyed seeing our guests over break, but look forward to catching up with the students who have been away for the past month.

    God continues to bless us abundantly in Norfolk. The group of young men we spend time with every Tuesday night is a constant reminder of that.

    — Chip Snyder, YA

    Winning Pro-Life Posters Announced

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    Winning entries in the 14th annual Youth Apostles Pro-life Poster Contest have been selected.

    This year 433 students participated in the contest, the most ever submitted in one year. Judges noted a marked improvement in the overall quality of the entries. The theme was “I Formed You in the Womb.”

    The Youth Apostles poster contest provides young artists an opportunity to use their creative gifts to express their pro-life values and apply what they have learned at home, at school and through their parishes and youth ministry programs.

    Gracie Tecala, OLGC, 1st place, junior division

    Gracie Tecala, OLGC, 1st place, junior division

    The winners in this year’s contest are as follows:


    First Place — Gracie Tecala, 7th grade, Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Vienna, Va.
    Second Place — Kelsie Loesch, 8th grade, Our Lady of Good Counsel School
    Third Place — Katie O’Brien, 8th grade, Our Lady of Good Counsel School

    Honorable Mention:
    Kristen Jones, 7th grade, Our Lady of Good Counsel School
    John McClorey, 8th grade, Our Lady of Good Counsel School
    Isabella Miranda, Our Lady of Good Counsel School
    Helen Wingate, 7th grade, Sacred Heart Academy, Winchester, Va.


    First Place — Brooke Sullivan, 12th grade, Paul VI High School, Fairfax, Va.
    Second Place — Haley Munn, 10th grade, Paul VI High School
    Third Place — Katie Eastman, 11th grade, Paul VI High School

    Brooke Sullivan, Paul VI, 1st place, senior division

    Brooke Sullivan, Paul VI, 1st place, senior division

    Honorable Mention:
    Gaby Coan, 9th grade, Paul VI High School
    Becca Kim Hyunjoo, 9th grade, Paul VI High School
    Danielle Issing, 12th grade, Paul VI High School
    Jessica Sydow, 9th grade, John Paul the Great High School
    Christine VandeHouten, 10th grade, Paul VI High School grade
    Christine VanTorsch, 10th grade, John Paul the Great High School
    Tiffany Vo, 11th grade, Paul VI High School
    Abigail Williams, 11th grade, John Paul the Great High School

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