Friends in Christ:
If you’re like us, your Catholic faith is something you want to share with those around you, and together, as a community of believers, we want to share it more broadly throughout the world. It’s in one’s heart — to feel compelled to reach out, to spread the Gospel message, to PROCLAIM your LOVE for JESUS!
But maybe you’re wondering how you, alone, can really make a difference?
Be hopeful and assured! You are clearly not alone. With the Holy Spirit and support of fellow Catholics within our community of faith, together, we can convert hearts to Jesus, enkindle a spark to know Him more, or even save someone from years of despair.
NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries understands your concern for family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances who have fallen away from the faith and your desire for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Knowing Jesus in a deeper way opens our hearts to see Him more clearly and to understand how He can work through us to assist others along their faith journey.
“May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones.” – Ephesians 1:18
So, what are young people, the future of our Church, seeking regarding their faith?
According to a recent CNA (Catholic News Agency) article: Why do some young people leave the Church? A new study investigates youth want and need a trusted, safe and non-judging place to have conversations regarding their Catholic faith. This national two-year study conducted by St. Mary’s Press and CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, found: The median age for deciding to leave the church was 13 years old and seventy-four percent of those interviewed for the study left the Church between the ages of 10 and 20. Furthermore, the article states “The CARA researchers cite a 2015 Pew study that the number of religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S. increased by 19 million between 2007 and 2014.”
One of the principal authors of the study President and CEO of St. Mary’s Press John Vitek recommends this: “We need to create a place where young people can freely wrestle with their questions of faith, including their doubt…”
“We found that young people want to talk about their faith but they aren’t sure if they can without judgment,” Vitek said.
Making faith relevant today
Fellow Catholics, here’s where we have an opportunity to work together to help build the faith and be supportive in raising up our Catholic community into the future. With this goal in mind, NET Ministries, a well-established Catholic organization, is skillfully prepared to proclaim the Gospel message this year to 100,000 junior high and high school youth to address faith questions and listen to some tough teenage issues.
“Our NET missionaries meet young people where they’re at and through our faith sharing and example we invite them to experience God’s unconditional love and acceptance,” shared Founder and President of NET Ministries Mark Berchem. “When a young person meets another young adult who is filled with faith, a beautiful exchange happens. The NET missionary is able to testify about the beauty of our Catholic faith and what it has to offer. We invite the young person to ‘come and see’ for themselves – give Christ a chance to reveal His profound and intimate love. It is critical that we provide each young Catholic an opportunity to experience the love of Christ before they make that fateful decision to leave their faith behind.”
According to New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, “In response to the question ‘How do we come to know and encounter Jesus today?’ we look to the Church.” Wuerl goes on to say, “The answer is found in the only living witness to the Lord Jesus, the only witness who can say I was there when Jesus died, when he rose, when he ascended into Heaven, and when he sent the gifts of the Holy Spirit on it. That one remaining living witness is Christ’s body, his Church. It is in living continuity with that Church that you and I find our connectedness to the Gospels and to Christ himself.”
“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Together, we are living out this Apostolic Tradition today. Through the Holy Spirit we are guided in the truth and Cardinal Wuerl reminds us in his writings that, “The Church and her sacraments are a continual reminder to us of God, God’s love, and God’s place in our lives. These great gifts to us from God are given precisely so that we never forget that God is a part of our love, our lives, all we do.” Weurl goes on to say, “However, Jesus desired not only to heal, to forgive, to draw people to himself in his day and time. His saving words and deeds were for all people of all time. And his saving work — that is, the fullness of God’s revelation – will endure till the end of time.”
Thank you for your courage to openly express your love for Jesus. So many have come to share their witness to the faith and for that we are grateful. Here’s a few inspiring testimonies, as of late:
Hear from some of our community of faithful believers:
Jerry and Cathy Brennan (Jerry is Vice Chair of NET Ministries Board of Directors and the couple are NET Supporters)
“If we’re going to revitalize the Church it has to come from the people…” – Jerry Brennan
Matt and Adriana Birk (The Birks are a Host Home for NET Missionaries. Matt is a former all-pro center for the MN Vikings and Super Bowl winner with the Baltimore Ravens)
“I think that it’s so important to get young Catholics to start to claim the faith as their own. I think NET Ministries offers a personal and effective way to engage young people and make them really think about their relationship with Jesus.” – Matt Birk
Ron (RW) and Kristina Holleman (NET Alumni and parents of NETters)
“As a parent, I know that I have to stay close to Christ and work hard to raise my children in the Faith, and let them be exposed to opportunities like NET that will enrich and encourage their growth.” – Kristina Holleman
Hear directly from a couple of our NET Missionaries on Why We Serve: Michael McGarrity of San Antonio, Texas; Team 14 and MaryEllen McCarthy of Marshall, MI; Team 10
Why do [you] serve? “Because I’ve met Jesus. It’s amazing how He changes your life once you actually choose to encounter Him. Because it is a choice.” – Michael McGarrity
“I’ve seen radical conversions on the spot at retreats through the presence of the Holy Spirit. I guess that’s why I’m here. I want to do my part to share how they can have happy, holy lives.” – MaryEllen McCarthy
Hear from youth who have experienced a NET team retreat:
“Honestly [I] did not look forward to this session and didn’t exactly know what it was. But once it begun and I opened up to it, I felt the love of God.” – Team 9 Blog
“This retreat was really cool. I feel a closer connection with God, and I just want to thank (small group leader) for listening to me! She really cares!” – Team 6 Blog
“Mission motivates” – Mark Berchem, as shared in a recent article in The Catholic Spirit titled, Panelists: Invitation, community, purpose can connect millennials to Church.
“My prayer for you in this moment is that you would hear these words and that the gift of faith would be kindled in your heart, and that you would reach out to Jesus and say to him: ‘O Jesus, I abandon myself to you. Jesus, you take over.’” – Andy Norton, NET Staff
Please take some time right now to proclaim your love for Jesus! Your witness makes a difference. Please share this message with others today!
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” Mark 12:30
Written by Amy Acheson, NET Staff