March 21, 2008

NCEA Convention

Youth ministry in action: ‘Ding Dong, Ditch and Run’ builds community

By Rose Lehman

Several years ago, our youth team at Holy Family Parish in New Albany, Ind., was looking for a way to show our appreciation to some elderly parishioners who had been very involved in the life and growth of our parish.

Thus was born the “Nativity Set Delivery” program or what is now referred to as “Ding Dong, Ditch and Run”—3DR for short.

For 10 days in the middle of December, one figure from a Nativity set and part of the Nativity story are delivered to parishioners’ homes one at a time. With each delivery, the Nativity story grows.

Each day, a group of youth and family members stop at the houses of the parishioners. They ring the doorbell and run back to the car—“ding-dong, ditch and run.”

“It’s been such a joy when the doorbell rings to see what unfolds in the little packages,” said 3DR recipients Betty Jo and Gene Murphy.

“Initially, I heard people wondering what was going on,” commented Father Sonny Day, pastor of Holy Family. “People like the mystery of it.”

The youths have fun trying not to get caught, and the recipients have fun trying to catch them.

“It was really funny to see how all the senior citizens tried to catch us each night,” said youth participant Katherine Finn. “I think they enjoyed it as much as we did.”

On the last day, the youths and families deliver the stable and the Baby Jesus, along with cookies, and sing Christmas carols to those they have served.

The first year, Holy Family delivered Nativity sets to the homes of two parishioners. Last Christmas, the program’s sixth year of existence, six sets were delivered.

Recipients say it brings both joy and meaning to the Christmas season.

(Rose Lehman is youth minister at Holy Family Parish in New Albany, Ind. For more information on youth ministry in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, contact Father Jonathan Meyer, archdiocesan director of youth ministry, at†

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