Greetings from the twelve of us on Team 2! We’re writing from the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia and the year is progressing incredibly well! Before we continue, we’d like to introduce the members of our team. Our two team leaders are Ben Dorren (21) from Colorado, and Jess Dambach (23) from Georgia. The rest of us include Nicole Richards (22) from Texas, Aleisha Valdez (22) from Michigan, Lo Bennett (22) from Texas, Sam Kavanaugh (20) from Minnesota, Molly Hogan (19) from Minnesota, Sorcha Mooney (18) from Ireland, Nate Liesen (18) from Ohio, Michelle Gura (18) from Texas, Paul Nelson (18) from Ohio, and lastly Gabe Kopp (18) from Minnesota.
As a traveling team, we left the NET Center in St. Paul on September 23rd and made our way down to the diocese of Toledo, Ohio. Our team held retreats for schools and parishes in the Toledo area for four weeks, which, although making for a longer stay in one area than most traveling teams, provided a great opportunity to become familiar with the diocese. From there we headed east to Pittsburgh, and after two weeks, drove south to West Virginia, where we are currently. In the six weeks since hitting the road, our team really has become like family and each of us has grown in our faith thanks to the example and encouragement of one another.
Up to this point Team 2 has hosted thirty-two retreats for over fourteen hundred youth. We’ve had so much fun playing games and putting on skits for the youth, but above all we’re grateful for the chance to share our own love for God with His children and to provide an opportunity for them to encounter their Lord for themselves. Many young men and women have responded to God’s call and experienced a genuine change of heart over the course of their NET retreat. One particular youth shared her experience:
“Thank you NET team. This retreat has been the most powerful experience of my life. I came here thinking ‘this is a waste of time’ but all of the things they talked about all built up. I got little kicks from God throughout but when we were meditating it all hit me. I found Jesus truly. I have been searching for Him and I really found Him. I was shaking and in tears all because of this retreat.”
Ministering to youth on retreats is a great privilege, but we’re also blessed enough to bring Christ’s presence to the host families we stay with. Two men on our team were staying with a mother who had just returned to work as a nurse after seventeen years of being a stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately, she shared that her first new day of work was overwhelmingly stressful and discouraging, and that she was contemplating giving up on her new job. That night our two teammates offered to pray with the mother and her family and asked for the grace to approach the coming day. Upon returning from the next day’s retreat, the two men discovered that the mother had experienced great peace and no anxiety or troubles throughout the day. She accredited her peace and success to the time of prayer the night before and thanked our teammates for reaching out as they did.
All in all, God has been generous to us on Team 2 in providing a grace-filled and fruitful start to our year. We’d like to thank you for your support and prayers, and know that we are praying for you as well going forward!
“The times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes’, but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced.” – Pope Francis