Conference in Schoenstatt, Germany put on through partnership between Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA and Life Teen MinistriesSCHOENSTATT, GERMANY—One-hundred-forty high school teenagers and chaperones from U.S. Military installations throughout Europe gathered at the Catholic retreat center and shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Schoenstatt, Germany this month for a Catholic youth conference organized with support from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). The Aug. 8-10 conference, called Inspire[D], was put on by the international Catholic youth ministry, Life Teen, in partnership with the AMS Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
Dr. Mark Moitoza, AMS Vice-Chancellor for Evangelization, said the three-day program of talks, group discussions, training, celebration, and prayer was designed to help young people develop skills to share their faith, with particular focus on key components of Catholic youth ministry, including catechesis, community life, evangelization, service, leadership, pastoral care, and worship. The keynote speakers, musicians Kyle Heimann and Dan Harms of Popple Ministries, shared their faith stories in word and song, and they encouraged military-connected youth to use their own special gifts to share their faith as well.
After each keynote session, the high school youth gathered in small groups with their adult leaders to reflect upon a witness worksheet in the conference booklet. Through sharing in small groups and prayerful reflection, the young people were allowed time to consider how God has made a difference in their lives, and they were encouraged to draft their own witness stories. Ten young people stood in front of their peers at the conference to share their witness prior to the keynote sessions.
Dr. Moitoza said:
“These peer witnesses allowed military-connected youth to hear common experiences of the transient life and also the multiple ways that Jesus Christ touches the lives of others. Many referred to the consistency of the celebration of Mass at military chapels wherever they were assigned as a source of strength and welcome. The witness talks enabled young people to give voice to the Catholic faith, to practice sharing their faith with others in a safe environment, and to ponder ways that they may continue to ‘Go and Make Some Noise’ as Pope Francis has encouraged young people to do. In this way, the conference achieved its purposes. Thanks to careful planning, effective team work between the AMS and Life Teen, and the enthusiastic participation of the teenagers and their chaperones, the weekend was an unqualified success.”
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the U.S. Military Services, was on hand to preside during the liturgical celebrations. Archbishop Broglio fielded a question-and-answer session answering all of the questions young people had written on index cards. A teen participant wrote the following in an evaluation: “I really enjoyed hearing the Archbishop’s responses. I really liked how he didn’t shy away from questions.” Archbishop Broglio also spent time mingling with the teens and adult leaders in a conference that by all accounts was both literally and figuratively “Inspire[D].”
Archbishop Broglio commented: “Everyone worked so diligently to make the time at Schoenstatt a huge success. I give thanks to Almighty God for the leadership of Mark Moitoza, (Life Teen military representative) Marlo Dowdy, and the enthusiasm of the young people and adults. The weekend was truly a time of grace.”