Conferences that we attend every year have been a huge life source to our youth ministry
program over the years because of the powerful encounters that students have with Jesus. They
come back every summer with renewed hearts and new possibilities, and it’s always very
exciting to see them so alive with the Holy Spirit. Last year I invited all of you in the parish to
invest in this trip because of its importance and because the prices for this conference continue to
increase. This invitation was met with a remarkable amount of generosity from parishioners and
it made a vast difference for all those who attended. It is because of charitable donors that we are
able to make these things possible in our program, which is why I am reaching out and asking all
of you to consider supporting us this year as well.
The rough estimate for the Steubenville cost per student is $330. This sort of cost for a weekend
event can be a significant detraction for students in our area. When I’ve spoken to students about
this trip, once the cost is listed it is a huge obstacle to consider. The sports, extracurriculars, and
retreats students participate in add up to a great deal of money. Students in our program are
increasingly aware of the weight of that cost to their parents, or the difficulty of
fundraising/paying that cost themselves. So instead of asking themselves if it is something Jesus
really wants them to attend or instead of reacting to a desire to know Jesus more, they approach
this decision in fear or worry. That fear stems questions of unbelief, “Is this a really good idea?
Can I really afford to go this year? Is this really important for me right now?” instead of thinking
about what Christ can accomplish in their hearts.
In the gospel last weekend, Jesus prophecies a mission over his disciples Simon Peter, James and
John. He says to them, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” It seems an
impossible and maybe cryptic mission to the first disciples. I know that I couldn’t have helped
myself approaching that sort of opportunity with some questions. “How could I possibly not be
afraid? Why are you choosing me? What exactly do you mean about catching men?” It’s hard
not to respond in fear to obstacles that come up, but there are always amazing things on the other
side of an invitation from God.
We have seen the gifts of those invitations at our parish. At least half of our ministry staff, most
young adults that have come through our program, and kids in the program can now trace the
first stirrings of true conversion back to a Steubenville youth conference. The direction in this
conference is so prayerful and so full of God that it gives kids a way to receive Jesus in their
heart in a unique and priceless way. Unfortunately, even though that I know that it is priceless,
there must be a price associated with this experience.
I believe it is a major temptation to think that kids should have to earn these opportunities,
whether by fundraising, working, or picking and choosing between retreats. But faith is never
something we should have to earn. In the gospel, Jesus didn’t call Peter, James and John on
mission because they already had a strong evangelization resume’. They didn’t earn that
opportunity at all. They were just fishermen, but Jesus saw past what they were and knew what
they could be if they would only say yes.
All of our kids have the opportunity to be just like the first disciples. Simply saying yes to Jesus
one moment, and being fishers of men the next moment. They just need the opportunities to say
yes, and Steubenville is a very special place for that yes. There is a limited amount of time we
have to provide our young people opportunities like Steubenville, so we would like to make it
possible for them to attend every single one they can. I ask all of you to respond to the Lord in
this time if you feel called to invest in our youth ministry in this way. We have already seen so
much fruit from this conference and I would love to see the Holy Spirit keep taking more ground
in all of our students’ hearts this summer. If you would like more information on sponsoring us,
please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you would rather donate right away please
send checks (made payable to MHT) to the parish office. You may request to support a specific
student or have your donation be split among all who attend.