Several years ago, ambassadors from Stewardship: A Mission of Faith teamed up with Diocesan high schools and Bishop Ronald Gainer in an endeavor to bring the message of authentic friendship and the richness of a relationship with Christ.
After a one-year hiatus due to health and safety protocols surrounding the pandemic, the visits to the senior classes of the Diocese’s six high schools resumed earlier this month, with a mission of bringing Christ to students on the verge of graduation.
“As often as God gives us the opportunity to be in a Catholic high school and bring Jesus in front of the students for Him to encounter the individual hearts in front of Him in the Eucharist, it is our mission to continue,” said Rob Longo, mission ambassador for Stewardship: A Mission of Faith. The organization is a family of programs and ministries aimed at planting the seeds of faith in the hearts of all people. The organization is based in Elizabethtown.
This year’s visits are a full-day schedule with the senior classes, and include a presentation by Bishop Gainer, talks by Stewardship ambassadors Rob Long and Luke LeTourneau, prayer, small-group discussion and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
“We’re really trying to share authentic friendship and the value of going on this journey of faith as we talk to the seniors,” LeTourneau said.
His message shares the story of how he met Longo during a dark time in his life when he was dealing with addiction.
“It’s about being authentic in sharing my story, and speaking about what the Lord has done in my life,” he said. “I don’t fake anything; I’m transparent about my struggles with a death in my family that led to alcohol addiction and being broken, and then allowing the Lord to work through Rob to me. He came into my life when there was a lot of darkness, and he invited me to a men’s group where we pray the Rosary and read the Gospel. That invitation let the Holy Spirit guide me and work in me for a beautiful reversion.”
“From that, our friendship has blossomed and grown because of it being centered on Christ,” LeTourneau continued. “That’s what we share with the students: As you take this journey of faith, find that friendship that is built and formed and can grow with Christ at the center of it.”
The theme of authentic friendship carries throughout the day, culminating in the Lord’s invitation in the Blessed Sacrament.
“We get to spend time with the perfect friend in Jesus, who wants to change us from the inside out,” Longo said.
As of February 16, the visits have taken place at Trinity High School in Camp Hill, Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown and Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg.
Longo commended the students for the reverence during Adoration, and their candid conversations during small-group discussion. He said some have spoken with the mission ambassadors personally about questions and struggles, and welcomed their invitation to prayer.
“You don’t know if your message is going to fall on deaf ears or create roots; that’s not for me to decide or worry about,” LeTourneau said. “We’re here to plant seeds.”
(Learn more about Stewardship: A Mission of Faith at www.stewardshipmission.org.)
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness