Tag Archives: Old Dominion University

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    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

    Norfolk Community Moves to a New House

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    The Youth Apostles community in Norfolk moved to a new location in late April. We were in the original house for less than a year but it had already become too cramped: on meeting nights the members were spread out across all the rooms on the first floor during dinner, and during Mass men were lined up in the dining room and kitchen!

    Early on the morning of moving day, nearly a dozen college students active in the Old Dominion University Catholic Campus Ministry arrived at the old house a little groggy but eager to help out. After waking them up with coffee and donuts the students were ready to go and the truck was loaded up in record time.

    By noon the furniture was unloaded at the new house and Fr. Mike set up the chapel. The students joined the members of Youth Apostles for our first Mass in the new house! After that it was time to relax over lunch of pizza and soda.

    The new house is larger than the first house and provides plenty of room for the weekly Youth Apostles meeting. The best feature: the new chapel comfortably seats a dozen men for Mass! Another exciting feature: a large recreation room on the second floor that is perfect for hosting visiting CLCs and youth groups visiting Norfolk for weekend retreats!

    We are overwhelmed by the positive response we’ve received in our first year in Norfolk and from the great men the Lord has sent us! We give thanks to God for His generosity and the graces He has showered on us! We hope the new house will serve us for many years as community grows and we continue to minister to the youth people of ODU and Norfolk!

    For Directions Click Here

    Thanks to Chip Snyder for Photo’s and Article Content

    Norfolk Youth Apostles welcome first two Candidates

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    The Norfolk community of Youth Apostles held its first Candidate Commitment Liturgy on Tuesday night, March 28th.  Two men made Candidate commitments to the community:  Jon Perez from Chesapeake, and Sean Mazary from Newport News.  Both are students at Old Dominion and are active in the Catholic Campus Ministry program there.  Jon is completing his third year of studies and Sean his first.

    Many people made a special trip to be present for the special liturgy.  Fr. Jack Peterson, director of Youth Apostles, came down from Northern Virginia to officiate at the event.  He was joined by five other members who made the three-hour drive to lend support to our new candidates.  In addition, the entire staff of the ODU Catholic Campus Ministry and eight students from ODU also attended.  In addition, family members and other friends of our community were in attendance.

    The Mass was held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Norfolk.  Fr. Mike Kuhn, YA, the CCM chaplain at Old Dominion, concelebrated with Youth Apostles’ director, Father Jack Peterson, YA.  Music was provided by John Hopke, the Director of Campus Ministry at Christopher Newport University in Newport News. 

    ODU Students on ASB

    ODU students visit Eastern Ky. for Spring Break Mission Trip

    Chris Johnson No Comments

    A dozen students from Old Dominion University and four staff members from the Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) spent the first week of March in McKee, Kentucky, on a mission trip.  It was the first such Alternative Spring Break, or ASB, trip for the Catholic ministry at ODU in recent memory.


    Fr. Mike Kuhn, Y.A.

    Home base for the trip was the Catholic parish of St. Paul’s in McKee.  The tiny parish – technically a mission – is the only Catholic Church in Jackson County, and serves fewer than 50 families.  The students celebrated Mass with the parish on several occasions during the week and enjoyed a potluck dinner with residents after arriving on Sunday.  The students made their home at the dormitory facilities of the Christian Appalachian Project, a non-denominational Christian organization serving people in need in Appalachia.

    ASB trips take many forms; the ODU trip was built primarily around service to the local community in Jackson County.  The students worked on a number of projects over the course of the week, including hauling gravel and digging trenches at the site of a soon-to-be-opened community park; assisting several residents with repair projects in their homes; and cleaning, painting and building shelves at “The Attic”, the thrift shop run by St. Paul’s Catholic Church.

    The ODU group arrived in Kentucky only a few days after devastating tornadoes ripped through nearby areas of the state.  Jackson County was spared, but East Bernstadt in Laurel County, just south of Jackson, was the site of one of the deadly storms.  The students joined the clean-up efforts in East Bernstadt on Tuesday, helping to clear debris from a neighborhood, including a small cemetery.  It was an emotional day for all: it was gratifying to help where there was clearly so much need, but also humbling to witness first-hand the blind destruction of the storms.

    The students also had opportunities to get to know the local residents.  One of the tenets of Catholic social justice teaching is the dignity of the person.  ODU students spent time the residents – in their homes, at the County’s senior day care center, and at the local community rec center – hanging out, meeting their families, and hearing their stories.  The students relayed later that some of the most poignant and profound moments from the trip were those spent not in service but in conversation.  Thanks to these opportunities for interaction students were no longer serving “the poor” but were now serving their new friends.

    ODU ASB trip PicThe trip was organized by the CCM, so of course spirituality was a key aspect of the week.  The students celebrated daily Mass together and started and ended every day together in prayer.  Several students and staff members also prepared talks based on  1 John 3:11: “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another. . . .”

    No ASB trip is complete without a little fun!  The ODU students enjoyed two hikes in the Appalachian Mountains, where the first dots of spring color were beginning to appear.  They also spent a day in nearby Berea, Kentucky, home of the eponymous college and also a regional center for arts and crafts.  And who doesn’t love s’mores by a campfire in the middle of the forest, gazing up at the impossible number of stars visible in the clear night sky?

    The trip was a great success for everyone.  The opportunity to experience God through service, prayer and nature inspired the students and the staff alike.  The students are already talking about next year’s trip. The CCM staff members are excited to see that several of the students on the trip are now more actively involved in CCM programs since they returned from McKee.  All are confident that the first ODU ASB trip in many years will be the start of a great new tradition in the Catholic Campus Ministry!

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