Youth involved over summer in faith-related activities
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
September 18, 2003
While some students participate heavily in sports or recreational activities,
during their summer off school, other students of the diocese took time to
enrich their faith. Whether it was volunteering at Camp CAYOCA or going to a
Christian conference or going on a service trip, some students didn't just sit
around and do nothing for the summer.
"It is wonderful how many spiritual growth opportunities there are for
teen Catholics today," said Stephan Davis, director of youth and
intergenerational ministry for the diocese. "If you think about it, one's
teen years are probably the only period in which a person could devote so many
weeks to retreats, conferences and camps."
The students attending the summer retreats, camps and conferences will be the
parish leaders of tomorrow. These youth are excited about their faith largely
because of the intense spiritual experiences that they are having, added Davis.
Mitch Bedel, a senior parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Wall Lake, attended
conferences at Notre Dame and Steubenville to further his knowledge about his
faith. He also attended CLI (Christian Leadership Institute) in Boone. He
volunteered at the seventh and eighth grade service camp at CAYOCA and also
attended the Diocesan Core Group meeting in Sioux City.
"I just love going," said Bedel. "It's kind of a recharge for
me spiritually. It keeps me going. I always learn so much, and mostly I just
love to bring that kind of thing to people who are going through it for the
first time. Like showing the seventh and eighth graders how awesome it is to be
goofy for God."
In Steubenville, he enjoyed hearing people's stories, seeing where other
people come from and how they have found God. He added that it "sets you on
"You can just feel it with the music and dancing," said Bedel about
the presence of God in his experiences. "In the deeper parts of it, people
are crying. There are witnesses and testimonies and people are pouring
themselves out and opening themselves up. It is in the air.
"I wouldn't know what God was if it hadn't been for Steubenville. That
was my eye opener."
He also thought it was a way to bring things back to the diocese.
Sioux City Bishop Heelan High School senior, Chad Driscoll, took time over
the summer to volunteer at Camp CAYOCA and attend CLI. The last couple of years
he attended the conference in Steubenville, Ohio, but was unable to attend this
year. Driscoll is also a member of the Diocesan Core Group that is helping plan
the upcoming youth rally.
"I chose to do Camp CAYOCA because it is just a fun atmosphere,"
said Driscoll. "It is a great way to set a good example for the kids that
come and participate as campers. It made me grateful for my talents that I was
able to share with them."
At Camp CAYOCA, he volunteered for two sessions of camp. He was a music
leader for the service camp for seventh and eighth graders. He was also music
leader at the third and fourth grade B camp, which he has done for the past
He attended CLI, a conference to develop leadership skills for a week at the
end of June.
"I saw God through the students smiling faces and that they enjoyed
it," said Driscoll, who added that through being out in nature, he could
see God. "I feel that I have become closer to God. I am pursuing what I am
supposed to be doing on earth - bringing joy, music, leadership and patients to
Andrea Jenson, junior parishioner at Resurrection Parish in Pocahontas,
participated as a program assistant at Camp CAYOCA, participated in Notre Dame
Vision and is a member of the Diocesan Core Group.
At the Notre Dame conference, she had the opportunity to learn about
different vocations and what God is calling people to do in their life, whether
it's religious life or married life. She commented that they were given time in
small groups to talk about issues on a personal level.
"I went to a faith event and it got me hooked because they are all so
much fun, and I get to meet new people and learn more about my faith," said
Jenson. "It makes me feel good and more comfortable with things that I
struggle with because I realize that other people struggle with those things
At Camp CAYOCA, she commented that she saw God the most through the younger
children she was working with. They had smiles on their faces and less things to
"Every opportunity that you have to be with people and talk about your
faith, you grow in your faith and feel closer to God," said Jenson.