Crowdsourcing Some Ideas from My Readers

Crowdsourcing Some Ideas from My Readers September 30, 2014

A reader writes:

Here in our small southern town, it is difficult for me to give my kids a strong sense of Catholic identity.  I do what I can at home, but the vast majority of their friends are Protestant – many anti-Catholic. My children are firmly Catholic, but they have no concept of what it is like be immersed in Catholic culture. (I’m realizing that we might have to get them out of Arkansas in order for them to have that experience.)  We are looking for a summer camp for our younger children, but I’m also trying to find a Catholic work experience for young woman in our parish who is taking a gap year (or two) before finishing college.

Right after college (before becoming Catholic) my husband and I worked at a Christian outdoor education center.  Working in such a strong Christian environment really helped to get our marriage off on the right foot before getting busy with adult life and careers.  I’d like to help this young woman find a similar experience only in a Catholic job where she can see what life is like among faithful young Catholics who are excited about their faith.  This young woman is not necessarily looking for a career – just an interesting job in a strong Catholic environment.  She needs an immersion experience.  Any ideas?



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  • Julie

    I suppose it depends on the girl’s level of calling or discipleship. Spiritus ( is a group that does parish retreats, it’s a 9-month commitment. You’d definitely be among young evangelizers but then you kinda have to be one to join. And then there’s the residential counselors at Heather’s House near Chicago ( which is part of a crisis pregnancy center. They advertise every year or so for these counselors who are generally young women who live in the house with the mothers. Both of those involve a stipend, but you would have to also have a passion for the work, I think.

    Something that would be just for the summer, might be Metro Center in Chicago’s summer program: it’s like summer school day camp. The students don’t have to be Catholic, and it’s probably not “Catholic immersion” but then it’s also possibly less demanding of a calling. The organization is affiliated with Opus Dei, and I think a girl would be in the way of plenty of good catholic influences. If interested, she should ask about stipend and housing (I think those have been provided in the past but don’t quote me).

  • Morgan Wolff

    Have you looked at the CYO in your area? My sister spent several years as a camp counselor for CYO camps in the Pacific Northwest during and after college and absolutely loved it.
    I grew up with good friends who were Evangelicals. One tried to evangelize me because he thought I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus as my “personal Lord and Savior”, but that’s another story. He meant well. Anyway, does your parish have a strong youth group and/or religious ed program? That’s usually a good place to start if you want your kids around other Catholic kids who share their faith. Living in the Pacific Northwest we face the opposite problem where people aren’t so much Bible Belt anti-Catholic as they are hipster atheist. The main difference I can see is the hipster atheists sneer and chuckle at our “superstition” where Evangelicals can, but not always, come from a place of genuine, albeit misinformed, concern.

  • iamlucky13

    For the teens, I highly recommend the Militia Immaculata Youth summer retreats (which I know Mark is familiar with). Unfortunately, the nearest one to Arkansas is in Illinois, but I also know teens do occasionally come from such distances to attend:

    These retreats were a big part of my spiritual formation when I was in high school, in addition to being a lot of fun. I helped for quite a few years as a leader afterwards, when I arguably got even more out of the retreats. They’re based on the spirituality of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, and they’re well run.

  • Dan13

    The Jesuits have a volunteer corps for young adults but the application timeline may not fit.

    As for the younger kids, I know that my diocese has a summer camp. It’s possible that the parents’ diocese knows of Catholic summer camps in neighboring dioceses. So I’d ask the diocesan office for ideas.

  • Anna

    Totus Tuus summer program is active in many dioceses and might be what she’s looking for. Or the Theology of the Body Institute in PA takes interns for a year or two and she’d get to take some great classes while there.

  • obpoet

    My gut reaction is that home culture might be the best Catholic culture outside the mass.

  • Catholic pilgrim

    Mark Shea, I want to thank you for always posting people’s requests. I love how you’re so willing to help others. You’re so open to helping others with their struggles. Has anybody thanked you for this? If not, my thanks goes out to you, Mark (& all your readers who respond to the calls for help). God bless & keep you & your kind readers.

    • chezami

      Thanks. God bless you for your kind words. Your prayers would be appreciated too.

  • Joseph

    This is by far my favourite blog. I’ve followed it off and on since about 2007 or so (back before it was on Patheos). I’ve witnessed the steady change in your thinking since then Mark when it comes to social politics and have changed along with you on a number of things (aside from ‘gun control’ where I’m not as extreme… not in principle though, mainly for reasons of practicality). I enjoy the wit, the prayer requests, the stubbornness, and the willingness never to back down on positions that you strongly hold despite the constant ‘charity’ appeals from those who use ‘charity’ as a weapon to diffuse a different opinion.
    Keep up the good work.

  • JohnM

    A couple of relatives of mine have had good experiences with Lasallian Volunteers

  • Matthew

    The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Meriden CT offer the Franciscan Land Program. You work for/with the sister full time and are provided with room, board and opportunities for formation in the Faith and in Franciscan spirituality. AN excellent program. I spent two years with them and was very blessed.

  • Dave

    I highly recommend Catholic Familyland ( Ohio ) as both a week long camping experience for the family as well as an opportunity for youth and young adults to volunteer for the summer. We have been going for the past 5 years and I assure you that this will certainly provide for a full immersion experience among faithful Catholics.

  • Clare Krishan

    Here in Exton, PA we have a Catholic publisher, Ascension Press (Did Adam and Eve have a belly button” I think was one of their titles, but they are better known for their audiovisual “Great Bible Adventure” DVD study materials) are hiring and have internships available, if that may be appropriate?
    Excerpt from a recent email I recieved from them: ” Internships Available with Ascension Press
    Take advantage of our year round internship opportunities in various
    departments and special projects, affording you an opportunity and
    learning environment from our seasoned team of professionals. Train and
    mentor with hands-on work in all aspects of a faith-filled Catholic