At St. Thomas More Catholic Community outside of Las Vegas, it’s a rite of passage.photo_1

The annual Crossroads retreat transitions eighth grade religious education students from the MORE Youth program over to its LIFE TEEN program for high school teens.

This year, 65 eighth graders made the retreat, but it was no walk in the park.

Their overnight retreat stretched across 32 hours, and this year included helping with the National Letter Carrier Food Drive at area post offices, where they provided manpower to unload, sort, weigh, count and reload the nonperishable food donations for distribution to six food bank charities.

When they returned to St. Thomas More, the young teens processed their experience and participated in more retreat activities that helped them look back at the personal transitions they are making in their lives. They concluded at Mass where high schoolers welcomed them into LIFE TEEN.

Fr. Patrick Render, CSV, pastor, says volunteers drive the success of the teen ministry programs at his large parish , both adults and teens.All Helping He points to the more than 135 catechists in the Religious Education program, as well as 40 adults working with the MORE Youth program for junior high students and 25 young adults and adult core team members working with high school students involved in LIFE TEEN.

“They share their own faith and life experiences, their listening and their wisdom,” Fr. Render adds, “to help our youth — and their parents — through all the stages of developing faith and morals.”

Viatorians have been serving at St. Thomas More since its founding, more than 25 years ago, and the vibrant teen ministry reflects part of the Viatorians’ mssion: “to raise up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated.”