Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
July 11, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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July 11, 1998

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"Page ]4 "Jhi , I], 19c]8 ARKANSAS !!!i!~;Z(!~!~ii!~!i~ii~iii~i~iii!i~i!iii~;~i~i!iii~!~i~!i!~ii!ii~iiii~ii~ii~!!i~i~i!i~i!!~i~i!!;~i~i~iii~iii!~!!i~ii!!!ii!~;!~!!~i~ Time for a pop quiz. And I'll even make it everyone's favorite fill-in-the- blank. Ready? Here it goes. Three words I would use to describe teen-agers today are .____, __ and OK, let's see what we've got here. Raise your hand if you answered with words such as tim, inspiring, articulate and spiri- tually connected. Not the first words that came to mind? Not even close? Well, then I've got news for you. It would appear that you've been hanging out with the wrong bunch of kids. For despite what the great and omnipotent "they" would have us believe by virtue of the news we're continually bombarded with, not every adolescent is intent on shooting their class- mates. Nor are they all angry or apathetic. But then you didn't need me to tell you that. You already knew that. What I do wonder sometimes, however, is how many of us are aware first hand of the good news about the kids right in our own parishes? The kind of news that rarely makes for good copy in those six-part series on the front pages of newspapers, or the lead story for the nightly prime time newsmagazine shows. Because I've got to tell you, there's a ton of good news out there to tell. And after spending an entire week with a boatload of 15-, 16- and 17-year-old Catholic kids at a youth leadership confer- ence, I'm more con- vinced than ever that we as adults need to wake up and smell the in- cense. We need to know that only is there good news to spread where our youth are concerned; 2/U O1$$ the youth them- Therese Rohr selves are willing to spread it! If only we'll let them. I find it ironic in working with confir- mation classes over the past two years how these 14- and 15-year-old kids are told over and over again that, unlike baptism and first Eucharist where their parents chose for them, the decision to receive the sac- rament of confirmation is one they need to make for themselves. That it is the sacrament that recognizes and welcomes them as adults in the Catholic commu- nit),. Yet once confirmed, they're often still looked upon as "those kids." Are they still young people? Sure they are. As such, do they differ somewhat from other age groups of Catholics? Of course they do. Does that mean they should be consid- ered an entity unto themselves, separate from the rest of the "real" parish commu- nity? Not on your life. Not unless we want to run the risk of losing them to other faiths or to religious indifference alto- gether. I mentioned this youth leadership con- ference. Held last month in southern Indiana on the campus of what now serves as the St. Meinrad School of Theology, an amazing team of 20 and 30-something Catholics (okay, and one 40-something planner thrown in just for good measure) organized the week-long workshop and invited teens from parishes around the country. Its theme? Planning liturgy. And not just liturgy geared solely toward the "Mass is so boring" crowd, but rather the kind of liturgies the Second Vatican Coun- cil declared should have as its goal the "full, conscious, and active participation of (all) the people." From being greeters, to selecting mu- sic appropriate to the Church season, to effectively proclaiming the Word as lec- tors, to serving as Eucharistic ministers -- you name it. These kids learned about it. And not only did they learn about each aspect, they were given the opportunity to turn right around and put their newly acquired knowledge into hands-on expe- rience each afternoon during ristic celebrations. Th( awed and humbled by the participation -- their full, conscioUS, active participation. And yes, just like "normal" were also given healthy doses workshop" time to explore the grounds, talk or just hang out. (Sleep, my understanding, being one of the popular free-time activities.) The point to all this? For ingly confusing, times behavior, we as adults ever mindful of what an awesome youth truly are. They have much to c What's more, we also need to mind that these kids -- not of us ' earsity team members" -- are ply trying to figure out just what it has planned for them. But hey, don't take my.word Make it a point the next to talk with some of the kids in parish Catholic Youth Ministry. yet, jump in and get involved. Teens don't bite. Go on. I dare! I'll bet a month of Sunday that you'd discover a whole own superlatives to describe today. Therese Rohr writes from Bentonville,' Having a positive attitude is a matter of choice, not consequences Jerry Zentis is the kind of guy that can drive most people bananas. He is always m a good mood and always has some- thing positive to say. When someone asks him how he is doing, he replies, "IfI were any better, I would be twins!" As a restaurant manager, Jerry was unique. He had several waiters who stuck with him, following him from restau- rant to restaurant because of his at- titude. Jerry was a natural motivator. If an employee were having a bad day, Jerry would tell him or her to look on the posi- tive side of the situation. One be- came curious enough to say, "I don't get it, Jerry! You can't be that positive all of the time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Kach morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complain- ing, I can choose to accept their complain- ing, or I can point out the positive side of lite. I choose the positive side of life." "Yeah, right, but it's not that easy," his assistant protested. "Yes, it is," Jerry said. "Life is about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life." lxar Om Ft. Thomas J. McSweeney Several years later,Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restau- rant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gun- point by three armed robbers. While try- ing to open the safe, his hand shook from nervousness. It slipped off the lock. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with frag- ments of the bullets still in his body. About six months after the accident, Jerry met up with one of his former wait- ers. When asked how he was, Jerry re- plied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins! Wanna see my scars?" His friend declined, but did ask what had gone through his mind as the rob- bery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door. Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices. I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live." "Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" the waiter asked. Jerry replied, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions of the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action." "Well," he continued, "there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me. She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses suddenly stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'BULLETS!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'" Jerry pulled through thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. My friends, every day we have a choice to live fully or not. At- titude can be everything. erlcans in "t takes no genius to predict that immi- .gration trends substantially will change the way we live, worship and do business in the near future. According to the 1990 U.S. census, 75 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white, 12 percent African American, 9 per- cent Hispanic American, 3 per- cent Asian Ameri- can, 1 percent Na- tive American. By the year 2050 these per- centages will change dramati- cally. Fifty-three percent of the population will be non-Hispanic white, 21 percent TIIE HU/ffMV IDE Hispanic Ameri- Fr. Eugene Hemrick can, 16 percent African American, 11 percent Asian Ameri- can and 1 percent Native American. The Catholic population, which is 26 percent of the total, will increase to 33 percent by the year 2050. Interestingly, the Muslin population will increase from 1 percent to 5 percent. These projections caused one commen- tator, Arthur Scblesinger Jr., to wonder whether the surge of immigrants with their cultural differences and demands for rights will create frictions similar to the bloody frictions between the Croatians, Bosnians and Serbs of the former Yugo- slavia. Schlesinger warned that the Balkan's present moment might be the prologue to America's future. Others fear that when cultural groups immigrate and maintain their language and customs, a Tower of Babel effect may be created, leading to a loss of allegiance to the nation's founding principles. Still others view immigrants as people who take jobs from others or place a heavy burden on welfare systems. Fear is a terrible thing because it cre- ates panic and clouds our ability to clearsighted. How to avoid anti divisions, and gracefully cultures with established ones one of the greatest challenges of the millennium. I believe that to respond to lenge effectively, we need to take tue of prudence seriously. This vir lesson is to be clearsighted about This virtue counsels us to the reality that soon one out of every the people around us -- neighbors,' people we work and worship be from a different cultural and more citizens will be manner will vary in which various treat important life situations. Of we will see many more The fact is that the more prepared to work with other stronger the country will be. means of living in unity is to knOW to expect from others, the spect they most appreciate and convert a ' ve-they" mentality into one" practices. Such preparedness is best through religious education. As secular programs fulfill this well, they lack two essential to be truly successful: principles divine law and a worshiping that believes in God. AS Henry Newman once taug as our primary teacher, educatior complete. Finally, if religion takes a in building cultural risks that develop when peopl tered from each other, living tive enclaves, will be reduced. Undoubtedly new laws, just policies and public education major roles in creating the in the nation. But as history re has shown, our churches and faith of our founding fathers are very root of our great democracy"