When you look around at most Catholic Churches in the US, there are certain sights that are common: Catholic Daughter or Church Lady sacristans taking care of all the behind-the-scenes aspects of weekly masses, Knights of Columbus or Boy Scout Troop Leaders serving as greeters and ushers, men and women singing in the choirs or distributing the Eucharist, families sitting together at Mass, and friends and families talking and laughing after Mass. However, in all of this, two age groups seem to be the least commonly involved or even present: High Schoolers and Young Adults. People in these groups, especially after Confirmation, are not as present as other groups in our Churches. That is why our program exists.
We, as a Church, know that the Church and our faith communities must continue to grow and thrive, especially in these trying times where society seems to be against our faith at every opportunity. If we want this to happen, we need the strength and love that exists in the young people of today. Youth and young adults in our society are full of love and a passion to stand up for their peers, which is exactly what our faith preaches! These young people can be the voice and backbone of our communities and can help us to stand up stronger than we ever have before. That is our mission. We believe that young people are the leaders the church needs today. We pursue this by empowering teens and young adults in their faith and leadership skills.
We long to see our Churches filled with youth and young adults that are passionate about their faith, learning with and serving alongside other adults and peers in every aspect of our faith. Young people will come to Mass in greater numbers when they see their peers not only going to Mass, but serving at Mass as sacristans, ushers, lectors, eucharistic ministers, and in the choir. Young people are more willing to join bible studies when they are led by people around their age. Young adults will seek Catholic marriages when they can find other Catholics their age and see that we are all “normal” people. We will get more calls to vocations when youth and young adults spend more time in prayer with their peers at various events and gatherings. Our Church will be alive like never before.
Catholic Cross Training began as a retreat for incoming high school freshmen around 1998 in the Diocese of Austin. After being part of the youth ministry program of the diocese for about 17 years, the retreat separated from the diocesan offices and was lead by three churches in the area (Sacred Heart in LaGrange, St. Mary’s in Wimberley, and St. Ignatius in South Austin) in 2016. In the years following, the retreat continued and a leadership team was developed. In the fall of 2019, the group came together and officially became a non-profit company in the Austin Diocese. The program plans to expand to hosting other events with different age groups in the near future.