I registered and set up iamthird.ca three years ago, largely because I had begun to do some freelance retreats for local parishes and schools in addition to the full-time youth ministry position I held at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove. My ambition to become a Catholic Youth Ministry Speaker didn’t develop as I intended, because God had far different (better!) ideas for me. A few months after the site went live and I began my freelance work, I was hired part-time as a school division youth minister, and with a job and a half, it wasn’t fair to my family or either of my employers to try to pursue all these other wonderful opportunities. Now as I am on the threshold of a new chapter in my life, as Chaplain to Evergreen Catholic Schools, I know that the role this website is going to play in my ministry will be changing, too.
As Chaplain, I am going to be ministering to six schools: St. Peter the Apostle Catholic High School (which opens in less than two weeks!) for half my time; and then travelling to five other schools in our division: St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Spruce Grove, John Paul II Catholic School in Stony Plain, Holy Spirit Catholic School in Devon, Saint Mary School in Westlock, and Gerard Redmond Community Catholic School in Hinton, as well as some support to the Grade 4 students transitioning to the above schools. The net result is that I have some degree of responsibility to serve 2,000+ students across these six wonderful schools. So for the students I don’t see, this website is going to be part of a threefold social media outreach, along with my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/mikeisthird and my Twitter account, http://www.twitter.com/mikeisthird.
What does this have to do with faith, hope, and love (the title of this post?) Well, I’m in the process of adding three static pages to the site (you’ll see them in the menu bar above), on – you guessed it – faith, hope, and love. The Church identifies these three as the Theological Virtues:
The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. (CCC 1812)
In addition to the Church seeing them as important, I find that a lot of the discussions I have with students can often be tied back to faith, hope, and love. Some young people struggle simply with the idea of believing that God exists – or the ways in which we can enter into a relationship with Him. This is the heart of faith. Many students have been through difficult times in their lives, or see the tragedies that cause others to suffer, and wonder how it is that they can have hope. And, given that I work with teenagers, a lot comes back to the topic of love – particularly of the romantic kind, since what the Church calls us to seems so unnatural compared what they feel and see in the world around them. I want to leave answers to these questions front and center on this webpage, as I’ll be encouraging all the students I serve to spend some time here, and praying that through my writings they can come to a deeper faith, a firmer hope, and a purer love in the God who always stands at their side.
Past those, I plan to have two recurring features on this site: in honor of the ‘Year of Faith,’ I’m going to post on Tuesday mornings an explanation/reflection on a section of the YouCat, trying to explain what our Catholic faith is all about, and on Friday mornings, to post a brief reflection on the readings for Sunday Mass (“Five Minute Mass reflections.”) I’ll also include other things I come across or God inspires me to write about as I go. Please pray for me as I am just beginning my new role as Chaplain – but especially pray for the students I’ll be serving. They are wonderful, beautiful people… and my sincerest hope is that all that I do in their schools and here plays a part in helping them to become all that God has made them to be.