Q: What is LIFE TEEN?
A: LIFE TEEN is an international Catholic ministry that serves the Church and leads all teens closer to Christ by providing resources that encourage vibrant Eucharistic celebrations and opportunities for teens to grow in their faith. LIFE TEEN hosts many events, including summer camps, youth minister training conferences, and the Inspiration Tour. What is most important, however, is the ministry taking place in Catholic parishes around the world.
LIFE TEEN first began 20 years ago with a priest, a youth minister and a musician at a parish in Arizona. LIFE, as it was originally called, consisted of a teen mass, followed by a LIFE Night. The first LIFE Night was a simple rap session and pizza with the priest. The parish program grew in popularity with the teens, and people around the country started to notice. It was simple model – one that still works today – a teen – focused liturgy followed by a LIFE Night. Neighboring parishes began inquiring about the ministry, and within a few years, LIFE TEEN was offering national training conferences based on this youth ministry model.
In the past two and a half decades, LIFE TEEN has grown into one of the largest Catholic youth ministry programs in the world. LIFE TEEN has an award-winning Catholic website for teens, three year-round camp and retreat centers, teen and youth minister training conferences, a knowledgeable and friendly staff, and much more! Currently, more than 1,000 parishes around the world implement the LIFE TEEN model.
In 2004, LIFE TEEN was approved as a Private Association of the Christian Faithworld. What does this mean? The spirituality of LIFE TEEN was affirmed to be in line with the spirituality of the Catholic Church. This private association has a membership composed of LIFE TEEN alumni, parents, our Board of Directors, youth ministers around the world, and our staff. The approved statutes apply to members, who pray daily for the ministry and all teens.
Q: What is LIFE TEEN on a parish level?
A: LIFE TEEN on a parish level is a comprehensive youth ministry that is centered arounda weekly Sunday night mass geared towards teens and their families. It is followed directly afterward with a catechetical-based “LIFE Night” for high school teens along with “Parent LIFE” meetings for parents at the same time. There are other weekly activities, retreats and missions that are part of a parish LIFE TEEN program. In most parishes, LIFE TEEN is the faith formation component for its teens. One of the most important characteristics is that the parish priests, youth minister, and other adults reach out to teens and walk the journey to Christ with them on a regular basis. These adults are role models more than anything else, but they also teach and listen to teens.
Engaging homilies and relevant music bring the spirit of the liturgy to the hearts of the teenagers in the congregation. The priest brings the homily to the forefront of the teens’ minds, touching upon relevant and challenging material. The music minister works hard before each Mass, selecting powerful and relevant music and working with the musicians to bring the entire congregation to the heart of the liturgy: the Eucharist. The youth minister orchestrates the important component of the CORE team (a group of volunteers working with the youth minister), who facilitate the LIFE Nights. Together these team members focus on relational ministry, or building relationships with the teens.
Q: What is the national LIFE TEEN website all about?
A: The LIFE TEEN website, www.lifeteen.com, is rocking! The site is loaded with more than 2,700 pages of content, going into depth on topics from apologetics to chastity, from vocations to saint bios. Teen Talk is overflowing with over 2,000 posts per week, where teens from all over the world come together to talk about movies, camps, dating, living a Christian life, and other important topics! “Ask Bible Geek” and “Ask Father J” sections give teens straight Catholic answers to their questions about life and the Church. Downloadable icons and wallpapers are popular for teens. Honest reviews of movies, books, music and video games give teens a solid base about today’s secular media. Teens can also find Olivia on Air (Catholic radio program), XLTs (weekly praise and worship experiences), webcasts, videos, and music on the website. On average, this web site is updated twenty-four times a day. The dedicated staff works hard on LIFETEEN.com and for teens!