Diocesan News

Students, families treated to nationally-known author, speaker

Chris Stefanick at annual Southwest Nebraska Catechism Kickoff Sept. 10

Story by Jan Schultz

IMPERIAL (SNR) – “What do you live for?” author and speaker Chris Stefanick of Denver asked a crowd of 270 attendees at the Chase County Schools auditorium in Imperial Sept. 10.

The “Southwest Nebraska Catechism Kickoff” is an annual event that draws young people and catechists to launch studies and celebration of the faith each school year.

Stefanick also talked about modern day saints, working at relationships and how to remain inspired.

“We take people for granted” and lose reverence,” he said, even in individuals’ relationships with God.

“It should amaze you that God is in your life and it’s no accident,” Stefanick said. “God, who created space and time, also stepped into this space and time to be one of us.”

We are all made for God, Stefanick said and if one takes a wrong path in life, “From the start, He had a plan to bring us back to Him.”

“Every time we sin, God says he wants his son or daughter to come home just as a parent would,” he said.

Noting the high suicide rate among young people, Stefanick said all of us should ask ourselves, “What makes us tick? What are we living for?”

Touching on the lives of several saints and saints-to-be as examples, including Saint John Paul II, Stefanick said, “They profoundly knew who they were. It all starts with rediscovering reverence.”

Talking of John Paul II, Stefanick asked why an 82-year-old man could draw more teens than Justin Bieber.

“It’s because holiness is extremely attractive,” he answered. “The world desperately needs more saints because we all need reminders of who we are. It all starts with rediscovering reverence.”

In the second half of the program, Stefanick outlined seven ways in which everyone can work on their relationship with God:
1. Take time to enjoy life and be inspired. “We don’t take time to experience God’s love,” he said. Talking especially to moms, he said they need to take time for themselves because it’s a good example to their children of the importance of caring for yourself.

2. Unplug and shut off. Being online or on your phone all day, “Disconnects us from real life. When our souls are quiet, we can hear God,” he said.  Stefanick said he personally unplugs everything each Sunday.

3. Pray, at least 10 minutes a day. Prayer is a conversation and the most important part is listening, he said. He uses the acronym ACTS in his prayer—Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Stuff (things we ask for).

4. Community. It’s important be be engaged with others “who hold you up and are brutally honest with you.” He personally meets with a group of friends monthly to discuss their struggles and successes.

5. Mission. Noting two-thirds of God’s name is “Go,” he encouraged all to find a mission that serves others.

6. Mass. Do not miss Mass, he said. “Do this in memory of me” is not a suggestion. “You and I are back at Calvary” at every Mass, he added.

7. Deal with yesterday. “Confession is a beautiful gift,” he concluded. “If you don’t think you can start again, you don’t know Christianity. Each day God offers to rewrite the story.”

Stefanick, a 14-year youth ministry veteran, served at a parish in the East LA area and as director of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Lacrosse,  Wisc., and as director of youth, young adult and campus ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver. He is currently founder and president of Real Life Catholic—a nonprofit organization dedicated to reengaging a generation.  Above all, Stefanick said, he is proud to be a husband and father to six children.

Through conferences, videos, radio, writings and presentations, his ministry reaches one million people every year.

A new initiative, Real Life Catholic aims to reach young people at the turning point of their lives as they start college “and meet them there.” Stefanick said 80 percent of young people stop going to church by the age of 23.

Chris Stefanick’s website is reallifecatholic.com.

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