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NET Ministries leads retreats in diocese

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

A NET Ministries team was in the Diocese of Sioux City from Feb. 14-24 giving retreats for parishes.
NET Ministries is an international youth ministry that challenges young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the church. Teams have come to the diocese the last few years.

“When they are here, the parishes can invite them to lead retreats,” said Karmen Darwin, assistant diocesan director of youth catechesis and evangelization. “They have multiple themes for their retreats. A lot of people use the confirmation retreat themes, but they also have great ones for junior high kids all the way up to seniors in high school.”

She added the parishes and schools keep asking to have the NET team come back to the diocese.

“Giving students the opportunity to attend a retreat is important to the programs, so this is a good resource they can use,” said Darwin. “There are a lot of years behind it and a lot of time put into the NET programs.”

The NET team is a group of 10 to 15 young people ranging in age from 18 to 28, who are missionaries for about a year at a time traveling all over the country.

“It is really neat for our high schoolers and junior high students to experience and meet other young adults who are really on fire for the faith,” said Darwin. “It is a package deal. During the retreats they have talks, skits and they are very small group based. The activities within the retreats are really diverse.”

The NET team presented the Choose Your Adventure retreat for 7-12 students on Feb. 16 at St. John the Baptist Church in Bancroft. This was the first time a NET team visited the parish.

Lori Geitzenauer, the DRE and parish secretary at St. John’s, said the main message of the retreat was “to trust in God.”

“It was awesome,” she said. “I hope they learned to put more effort into their faith.”

Quality faith experience

“We wanted our seniors to have a top quality faith experience as they prepare to leave high school behind and enter the college/work world,” said Penny Miller, 9-12 principal at Kuemper Catholic High School.

The Kuemper Catholic seniors attended the Why Catholic? NET retreat. Miller said the NET team members were very high energy and kept the students moving. 

“Our Kuemper students really enjoyed the day,” she said. “It takes some organization, but we feel it's a great way to go for our 8th graders and our seniors.”

Earl Schiltz, 6-8 principal at Kuemper Catholic School, said they have had the NET group at the St. Lawrence Center for a few years, and the students really enjoy the group. 

“The group relates extremely well with the students, keeps them engaged with games, skits and discussions, and they have high energy which goes well with our grade 8 middle school students,” he said. “They are able to generate some powerful discussion with the students and our students really connect with the NET group.”

Schiltz had three students in his office the following day asking “to have the NET group back again for another retreat. That says a lot about the quality of the group.”

Sacrament of confirmation

Stephanie Joyce, the DRE at St. Mary Church in Storm Lake, pointed out the topic of the Feb. 22 retreat for 7th-12th graders was You will Receive Power.

“The main message of the retreat was to get them (the students) amped up for the sacrament of confirmation,” she said. “They (the NET team) are very energetic and they are similar to the age of students who were attending the retreat. The kids were able to relate to them.”

Joyce hopes the students gained “an appreciation for the sacrament of confirmation and that they don’t necessarily have to be perfect, in a spiritual sense, to receive the sacrament.”

Throughout the retreat the students participated in small group discussions, skits, a relay race and had an opportunity to go to confession.

The NET team also presented the You will Receive Power retreat for the 9th-11th graders in the confirmation class at the Greene County Churches – St. Columbkille in Churdan, St. Brigid in Grand Junction and St. Joseph in Jefferson, where the retreat was held.

“The presenters were very friendly, good and worked well with the kids,” said Rita Schmitt, a CCD confirmation teacher for St. Columbkille. “I think most of the kids enjoyed it much more than they thought they would.”

Throughout the retreat, the students were in small groups sharing their witness. They also played games and the team talked about having God in their lives.

“I enjoyed the young people. They are very enthusiastic,” said Schmitt. “I was glad the students could hear and see young people very involved in their faith and what that meant to them.”

The team also gave a retreat, Why Catholic?, at St. John Church in Onawa on Feb. 23. On Feb. 20, a retreat was held for young adults at Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City.


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