Youth Ministry

    Teens Tackle Poverty Close To Home

    John Lilly No Comments

    Story originally published on Arlington Connection by Shirley Ruhe.

    Full Member Don Smaltz with his WorkCamp crew on site in Fredericksburg, VA.

    Rory Cameron from Arlington took off with a fleet of mini vans on June 24 where he was headed for a week of WorkCamp with the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. Lily McIntire changed into her white shirt with the blue motto for this year “I Will Love” stamped on the back. She headed for the prayer circle before taking off on Sunday afternoon.

    WorkCamp began 29 years ago with 18 teens in one parish. In 2017 there were 820 teens and another 400 adults working on 190 projects to make homes warmer, safer and drier for those in need. Kevin Bohli, director of the Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Youth Ministry, says the projects are always within the boundaries of the diocese, which includes 21 counties and seven cities in central and northern Virginia.

    “We want our teens to understand you don’t have to travel a long distance to find poverty or to help those in need. Service begins right here at home,” Bohli said.

    Cameron worked this year in a trailer park to build a new deck with a wheelchair ramp for an elderly woman who had trouble getting out. The first day they took out several big bushes and “our leader had us save all of the flowers and move them.” The next day they started building the deck. “Measuring was critical in building the framing for the deck so when the ramp is connected it would fit right,” he said.

    Cameron says the teenagers get tool training before they participate in WorkCamp. “Each parish has its own individual tool training. It is a basic course — hammer, drill, nails.” But he says his dad has had him do projects for years so he is pretty good at building. “But some kids don’t know anything.”

    Carolina Magro, from Alexandria, says she also did tool training. I could use a hammer but I’m not comfortable with power tools.

    “We had a contractor watching us to supervise our projects step by step.” Cameron said, “They were very big on safety — always wear safety glasses, gloves, drink excessive amounts of water.”

    McIntire says the first step was always to walk around the work site to spot any potential hazards like power lines or unlevel grounds.

    Magro, in her second year as a volunteer, says this year she had lots of small projects for a deaf couple including installation of new storm doors, refurbishing the garden, fixing the railing and the outdoor steps. Her project last year had been the floor for a playroom for mothers with young children. She says the women and children were living in a temporary situation because they were homeless or in a bad place. Magro says she had heard a lot about WorkCamp and her sister had done it. “It’s relational ministry and rewarding helping her and knowing her life changed.”

    McIntire says this is her third year at WorkCamp. “The first year I didn’t know what I was doing but all the kids in the parish do WorkCamp.” She estimates they had 40-50 teenagers this year from her parish. “It is important to make lasting friendships, not just superficial. I got close with the crew. Every year I would go in with the mindset that it wouldn’t be as fun as the last year so you work harder, but I had an amazing experience.”

    Cameron says it was a joke in his family that his mom was going to make him go the first year and then he could go back if he liked. This is his third year; all three years he has been assigned to decking projects. “I like construction. It’s very fun and I like helping people.” He says the residents would come out and talk to them about once a day. “She had limited mobility but she seemed very thrilled with us.”

    McIntyre says that each day was pretty much routine starting with mass at 7 a.m. Emily Madden, a 4th year camper from Alexandria, said, “The bathroom lines are pretty long but that’s just a little sacrifice you do for the good feeling you have.” This is followed by breakfast. Cameron says they had breakfast each day with teenagers they knew but during the workday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. they were assigned to a group of teenagers from a different parish. “They like to have you get to know each other.”

    On the way to the site each day there was a “devo,” a teen devotional leader who led the group in prayers during the car ride and lunch. Madden says they would have a discussion about what they were going to do that day, “tie in the Catholic aspect, make sure we were doing the work for the right reason.”

    Teresa Nguyen says everyone in the crew had a role. Hers was to be the “dynamo” to keep up everyone’s spirits.

    After they arrived at Madden’s site she says it was measuring space for the gutters and chop sawing the pieces until the lunch break — peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, snack and drink every day. Then back to work until 4 p.m. followed by a shower. Nguyen said, “They wouldn’t let you into dinner unless you had a shower. I can understand. It got pretty hot.” After dinner there was a program with a speaker or musical performance “and one night I remember we had ice cream,” Nguyen added.

    Madden said, “The program was one of my favorite things with lots of music. You got to be with your parish people and your new friends.” Madden says this is her 4th year of WorkCamp where she helped build a wheelchair ramp. “It was somewhere close to King’s Dominion. It was kind of funny, we passed King’s Dominion every day going to the site and coming back.” Next year Madden hopes to return to WorkCamp as part of the home base crew and when she is old enough as an adult leader.

    Nguyen, also in her 4th year of WorkCamp, says last year she helped repair a wheelchair ramp “that had boards poking out and nails everywhere” so that the resident’s grandson could safely get out of the house.” On the last day the residents can come together with the crews and they pass around the microphone. “What really touched my heart was my resident came with her two grandchildren and said they were no longer trapped inside the four walls of their house and her little granddaughter could now play outside on the deck without her having to worry and her grandson could get his wheelchair outside.” Nguyen added, “We think they are letting us come inside their house and helping them, but they are really helping me.”

    Bohli says he attended WorkCamp as a volunteer contractor in 1995. “The experience had such a strong impact on me that I left my position as a mechanical engineer for the government in 1997 and began to do youth ministry.” In 2001 he took over the diocesan office of Youth Ministry “and began running the very camp that had such a strong impact on my life.”

    Beauty and the Beast helps teens and young adults “break the spell of self-interest”

    John Lilly No Comments

    Photos by Tom Kise

    Upper Room Theatre Ministry, directed by Full Member Rob Tessier, finished it’s 16th performance this summer with the production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The core mission of URTM is to use the arts to reach out to a wider community – both on stage, back stage, and to the audience – beyond just those who are Catholic. Through live, uplifting, performances, they bring God to others. The annual show the ministry puts on helps support the youth ministry program at All Saints. The funds raised from the show allow over 60 teens to attend mission trips next year to care for the poorest of the poor.

    Bishop Burbidge event stopped by to show his support for the cast and crew during Friday night’s performance! He prayed with the entire cast before they took to the stage.

    Rob said it best in the Director’s Note in the show program:

    All humans are created good at our very core. The invisible reality of our soul is the greatest and purest BEAUTY that exists. However, our own busyness, attraction to things, and desire for comfort can cloud that beauty with a BEAST-like selfishness.

    In this production, we see individuals with a greater external status treating those who are different or carry less status in a manner that rejects their human dignity. For the young prince and his staff, this results in an “imprisonment” for a period that allows them to see their error. Meanwhile, those in Belle’s village who originally reject her come to discover a woman with tremendous courage, compassion, and love.

    When we greet others with a smile, express our concern for those around us, and adopt an attitude of gratitude, we help break the spell of self-interest that so often plagues us.

    It’s been a gift to work on this production. I believe there are many lessons here, but most importantly is that we should treat every individual with deep respect recognizing the true beauty of the human soul present, no matter how cluttered it might appear on the outside.


    Support James Armstrong’s Year of Missionary Service!

    John Lilly No Comments

    File_000 (1)James Armstrong has chosen to surrender a year of his life to the Lord in the service of young people. Having recently graduated from the University of South Carolina, he discerned a call from God to dedicate a whole year to helping young people encounter the merciful love of Christ.

    James will be assisting Rob Tessier, the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at All Saints, at the largest parish in the state of Virginia. Most fundamentally, he will be building relationships with teens and helping them come to know Christ. This process will include training in the art of reaching out and actively bringing the love of Christ to young people, assisting in the planning and execution of middle school youth group events and conducting weekend retreats for high school and junior high students. He has already participated in a week-long summer work camp and served as a co-moderator of the boys Catholic Life Community.

    Youth Apostles sponsors the Year of Missionary Service to Youth. He will live in their center in McLean with 15 other men where he will build a strong prayer life, celebrate the sacraments regularly, cook and share meals, and receive a strong formation in the Christian life.

    Please consider donating to help cover the costs of this Year of Missionary Service. Any amount you can give, large or small, makes a difference! Thank you for your generosity.

    Click here to support James

    “Into the Woods” receives rave review from DC Metro Theater Arts

    John Lilly No Comments


    “Once Upon a time, in the city of Manassas, there was a theatre group that was in their 15th year of producing Broadway quality musicals. Every summer a group of talented performers gather to rehearse a visually stunning and musically wonderful show. And this year was no exception. Fresh off their hit from last year’s performance of Peter Pan, Upper Room Theatre Ministry has stepped Into The Woods and brought out a new side of Stephen Sondheim’s hit musical.”

    Read the full article

    All Boys CLC Retreat 2015

    Peter Clem No Comments

    clc 2015 2clc 2015 1

    The weekend before Thanksgiving, 30 young men in high school went away for 3 days to grow in their faith through prayer and community. Our CLCs (Catholic Life Communities) are single sex small groups that are organized at various parishes and every year they all come together for aIMG_3677 retreat. Throughout the weekend, there are many opportunities to encounter Jesus through talks, activities, sharing, and of course the sacraments. There is also time to relax and grow in fellowship through sports and over some good food.

    This weekend can be life changing for these guys, as they are asked to confront their fears and the things that hold them back from diving more in love with Christ. Through encouragement in the small group setting, everyone is given a chance to seek advice and share what is on his heart.

    The time away from the world allows one to really give God the time He needs to work in our hearts. One teen shared that this weekend had some of the deepest sharing he had ever done. Another was enthusiastic when everyone was sharing how they prayed and considered taking those ideas and bringing them to his own prayer life. All of them agreed however that the highlight was adoration.
    During adoration, we had a unique opportunity through a Eucharistic procession around the room, where everyone was brought face-to-face with Jesus in a close and personal way. The precious seconds were moments of peace and quiet, something not so easily found in our daily routines.IMG_4629IMG_4624







    As a moderator, I always look forward to this weekend. It is so encouraging to see these young men desirous to grow in love for God and for one another. There are many ways to serve God and His people, but helping these boys become men of God is very special to me and I am especially grateful for the time away on the All Boys CLC Retreat.St marys clc shirts

    Recapping Pope Francis’ Trip to Cuba and the United States

    Peter Clem No Comments
    Pope Francis kissing Kolbe Francis Power during the Papal Parade.

    Pope Francis kissing Kolbe Francis Power during the Papal Parade.

    Last week, Pope Francis visited Cuba and the United States for the first time. The trip was packed with many public appearances, private meetings with heads of state, and opportunities for the pope to interact with those who are in most need of God’s mercy. Pope Francis spoke to Cuba and America on many subjects, primarily focusing on the family for a majority of his pilgrimage, ending with the World Meeting for Families.

    Many Youth Apostles partook in opportunities to see the Holy Father. Eduardo Azcarate, along with his wife and daughter, and Fr. Ramon Dominguez joined a group who went to Cuba to greet Pope Francis. Some brothers traveled early in the morning to line the streets for the Papal parade on the National Mall. During the parade, Pope Francis kissed Kolbe Francis Power, son of Full Member Mike and Directress of Women Youth Apostles Kelly Power. Check out the video below! A few brothers received tickets to attend the Canonization Mass for Saint Junipero Serra, including 4 of our priests who concelebrated the Mass. Youth Apostles was given 30 tickets from a couple generous donors to attend Pope Francis’ address to Congress on the West Lawn.

    The culmination of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage was this past weekend in Philadelphia. Saturday night was the Festival of Families with 6 families invited to tell the Holy Father their story and throughout the night, many world class celebrities performed and spoke to a crowd of thousands. Sunday was the closing Mass in which over a million attended. Many of our brothers attended these two events along with teens from our ministries. Virginia Tech was able to bring 150 students and the Diocese of Arlington managed to bring a group of 700 to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.

    Personally, I had an amazing experience. It was my first time see a pope in person and although I didn’t receive a personal encounter, I was deeply moved by the number of people gathered, the joy of all around me, the hearts of the young people I went with, and how the Lord spoke to me personally about the peace He has to offer. One particularly touching story was how we waited for over 4 hours to attend the Mass, forgoing lunch and knowing that we would not have dinner for many hours. We packed many snacks anticipating this and some of our teens decided to give their snacks to the homeless they encountered. This was truly answering Pope Francis’ call to go to the peripheries and touch the suffering flesh of Christ. I was being taught this by the youth I am called to serve.

    Below are links to some of the stories that came from this incredible time for our nation.

    Link to story about Kolbe Francis receiving a kiss and blessing from Pope Francis:

    Link to Kevin Bohli, Director of the Office of Youth Ministry, blogging about Arlington’s Papal Pilgrimage to Philadelphia:

    Link to all of the speeches and homilies Pope Francis gave during his Papal visit:

    Day for the Children of Youth Apostles Brothers

    Peter Clem No Comments


    This past Saturday, we had a day here at the house for the children of Youth Apostles. The day began with Mass and then after breakfast we broke up into groups to come up with a skit on a parable. It was truly fun to engage in the Scriptures in a visual and interactive way. A variety of props were used to give some added comedic effect.


    DSCN8412After the skits, we went into the chapel for Adoration and an opportunity to encounter the Scriptures in prayer. Through a guided Ignatian meditation, we reflected on the story of Jesus walking on the water, how he calls us out of the boat personally and we need to focus on Him and not the storms around us. We then broke for a pizza lunch and some free time for sports. It was a truly wonderful day with 17 kids from 9 different families. Some of the Consecrated brothers and some of the fathers helped plan the day and were present for all the activities. Our hope is to continue to build up this community of the children of our brothers.DSCN8387DSCN8388

    March for Life 2015

    Peter Clem No Comments

    march 2

    Yesterday, thousands gathered together for the annual March for Life, consisting primarily of young people. It was with great joy that we began the day at the Life is VERY Good Rally at the Patriot Center in Fairfax with about 7,000 other Catholics to celebrate Mass. We took about 35 youth from All Saints in Manasas, VA. It was truly inspiring to see these young people excited to marchbe fired up about being ProLife. They had much enthusiasm to be there despite being a long day of walking and traveling. After Mass and a delicious Chick-fil-a lunch, we drove down into DC for the March. Despite packing the streets with many strangers, there was definitely a feeling of unity and love, standing for the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death. There was many groups present ranging from babies to elderly, West coast to East, Catholics to those of other faiths.  I particularly enjoyed the conversations with the various teens about the struggles of being ProLife in a world that persecutes us for our beliefs, watching them see that they are not alone in this world but are in fact surrounded by many others. One teen asked me how someone could actually justify something as horrible as abortion. The way that she asked with such innocence and the look of horror on her face truly touched my heart. Even one so young could see the injustice and not understand how we have come to this place in our nation. She gave me hope that this generation will be the answer to the culture of death.


    Below is Fr. Jack expressing why Youth Apostles has been so invested in promoting the dignity of every human person since its foundation. Be sure to check it out and follow us on Youtube.

    WoYA’s Fatima Estorninos interviewed by Franciscan Media

    John Lilly No Comments

    This week, WoYA full member and Assistant Director Fatima Estorninos, was interviewed by Franciscan Media Productions. She talked about her ministry at St. Agnes and the work of the Women Youth Apostles thus far.

    She talked about how the community is supported by the Youth Apostles community, and how her and her sisters live out their commitments in their daily lives. Relational ministry is essential to both YA’s and WoYA’s, and Fatima sees her involvement with community vital to doing ministry.

    You can listen to the full talk here .

    [Copyright by Franciscan Media Productions]

    Visit the WoYA’s website to learn more about them!

    Come work with the youth!

    John Lilly No Comments

    Love young people?1390464_10152043151219769_1806024361_n

    Want to learn more about youth ministry?

    Then consider a Year of Volunteer Service with Youth Apostles!

    It is a year dedicated to service within the Youth Apostles Community. Gain experience working with young people (middle school to college-aged), participate in the life of the Youth Apostles Community, and dive into the spirituality and charism of the community.

    Questions? Please contact us here or at (703-556-0914)


    Check out our flier for more info!


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