May 14, 2010


Young adults travel overseas to build up the body of Christ

Think that our latest generation of young adults has allowed society’s materialistic mentality to shape who they are? When it comes to two groups in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, think again.

As you read this, 25 young people are currently overseas working as missionaries in two developing countries and embracing their vocation to build up the body of Christ.

Their journey of faith—and two archdiocesan priests—has led them to be Christian witnesses and spend a week spreading the Gospel message of love to the poor in Haiti and Honduras.

When it comes to connecting young people with their faith, Father Rick Nagel may be on to something. Father Jeffrey Godecker may be, too.

Both priests are currently leading separate groups of young adults on mission trips to serve the poorest of the poor.

Father Nagel, who is the director of young adult and college campus ministry for the archdiocese, is in the Port-de-Paix Diocese in Haiti with 13 young adults helping minister to thousands of refugees who have fled there as a result of the January earthquake that decimated Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, and its surrounding area.

Father Godecker, who is the chaplain of the Catholic community at Butler University in Indianapolis, is on a mission trip in Honduras with 12 college students. They, too, are reaching out to the least of our brothers and sisters.

You would think that young adults, many of them wrapping up their academic year, would be packing their bags, preparing for summer break and looking forward to some “down time.”

We wouldn’t be surprised if they had these and other things on their mind—not a mission trip—but the young adults who are with Father Nagel and Father Godecker are different.

“I think we have to be patient and work with them, to meet them where they’re at,” Father Nagel recently told a Criterion reporter when discussing his ministry to young adults.

Where this group of young adults is “at” is affirming to people who take seriously the Church’s mission to build up the body of Christ across borders and cultures. It is also clear that, in these young adults’ lives, faith is an important element.

“Our whole mission in taking young adults to Haiti is to really help them grow, and learn to become missionaries and lead mission trips some day,” Father Nagel said.

“Imagine if these 25 young adults really develop a heart for that even further than some of them already do,” he added.

Our faith and hope in young people encourage us to consider those possibilities.

During his pilgrimage to Malta in April, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to 40,000 young people and encouraged them to fulfill their duty to show God’s love through service to others, especially toward the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society.

“Every personal encounter with Jesus is an overwhelming experience of love,’ Pope Benedict said.

During their mission trips to Haiti and Honduras, the 25 young adults will be Christ to people facing different challenges. Their mission will include seeing Christ in all who cross their path.

Offer a prayer for these young adults and all our youths at Mass this weekend.

Pray that they begin to realize, as our Holy Father told the young people in Malta, that “God rejects no one. And the Church rejects no one.”

And pray that these young adults and all our youths begin to realize that, coming together as the body of Christ, we can make a positive difference in the world.

—Mike Krokos

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