In the Gospels, Jesus spent a disproportionate amount of his time with just a few men. Jesus certainly preached to the masses and healed many people, but in a particular way, the heart of his ministry was that he chose to invest his life deeply in only twelve disciples who he named apostles. For three years, Jesus shared life with the apostles. He was friends with them. He camped with them. He prayed with them. He also taught them what it looked like to love, to pray, to know the Father, and ultimately, he taught them how to carry on the mission of sharing the Good News with others. In a paradoxical way, Jesus modeled to us that an effective way to reach more with the gospel is for each of us to invest deeply in a few and equip them to do the same for others. This is the method our campus ministry teachers and small group facilitators strive to imitate in our small faith groups.
Small faith groups are growing in popularity on the SAHS campus. Currently, there are six different groups meeting weekly during lunch consisting of 20 young women and about 25 young men.
The young men’s groups were started in 2020 by Fr. Mark Tracy and Mr. Tony Kreke. Mr. Kreke and Mr. Jeremy Nice, St. Anthony’s Parish Missionary, have developed the group into what it is today. “Our group name is Iron Sharpens Iron. This represents how each person in the group keeps each other going and keeps everyone accountable. We all push each other to do better and to strengthen our faith. Overall, from the group it has helped us all grow closer to God and stand up for our faith,” states junior Connor Roepke.
The young women’s groups are led by Mrs. Amy Blanchette and Mrs. Ashley Jansen. They have started The Backpack Program, helping students learn how to view themselves positively as a spiritual and human being with choices. It is accomplished by looking at their relationships with themselves, others, and with God. “I do not judge myself as often as I used to, and when I catch myself, I realize that I have unrealistic expectations for myself that I would not have for others. I am a happier person,” says a freshman girl in the program. “It’s a safe space where I can express myself without the fear of judgment and I find out that others are feeling the same way”, says a junior girl.
Small groups have the potential to be more than just another program. Small groups create an environment where students can experience authentic community and encounter the person of Jesus Christ. This program creates the opportunity to not only share content, but to also share life.
“With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us” (1 Thes. 2:8)
Our campus ministry team has the opportunity to do for a few, what we would love to do for the many – to accompany students along the way of discipleship and equip them to do the same for others.
One goal for our theology department and our small group facilitators is to have SAHS graduates live their faith in the next phase of their lives, no matter what that may be. For all students, we hope to help them establish and sustain consistent habits of discipleship (daily prayer, receiving the Sacraments, etc.) that will continue as they grow into adulthood.
Our newest Campus Ministry Teachers, Mrs. Blanchette, Mr. Volmert, and Mr. Hussey, also bring a great energy to our High School theology department. In addition to helping guide our students as they continue to deepen their knowledge of our Catholic faith, the teachers help support our small group messages in their classrooms.