|Mary Peach enjoys a conversation with a resident at the Golden LivingCenter nursing home in Greenfield, Indiana. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)|
This article is reprinted with permission from the Archdiocese of
Indianapolis Criterion online edition, published on July 19, 2013, at
the following link:
By Natalie Hoefer
Greenfield, Indiana—It was day three
of summer camp, and seventh-grader Mary Peach was clearly enjoying
her time as she smiled brightly and grabbed the hand
in front of her.
Her smile was reflected back by the
owner of the hand—an elderly woman in a wheelchair who
lives at the Golden LivingCenter in Greenfield, where Mary and
her campmates led songs, distributed flowers and cards, and spent
time visiting with the residents.
“This was my favorite project—experiencing all
the ladies, talking with them, having fun with them. It
was nice!” says the youth from near Akron, Ohio.
one of about 30 girls from Indiana and elsewhere who
participated in the “Girls Getaway” three-day summer service camp offered
by the Challenge chapter at St. Michael Parish in Greenfield.
joy at camp—by serving
According to the Challenge website, the program
is a “network of Catholic clubs for boys and girls
in fifth through 12th grade who want to grow in
their Catholic faith, friendship with Christ and make a difference
in the world around them.”
The program is coordinated by Regnum
Christi, a lay apostolate focused on “extending Christ’s Kingdom in
full collaboration with the Church and its bishops,” according to
the Regnum Christi website.
St. Michael parishioner Rosie Kube started a
Challenge club for girls at the parish eight years ago
when her oldest daughter, Megan, was entering fifth grade.
have all four [of my daughters] in Challenge,” she says.
“It has been a blessing for the family.”
The Challenge program
consists of many components: weekly meetings, service projects and retreats
or days of reflection during the school year, and camp
during the summer.
The St. Michael Challenge group puts a special
focus on service for their summer camp. From June 17-19,
the girls made rosaries for troops, and care packages and
cards for the children and elderly they would visit during
With Our Lady of the Apostles Family Center in
Hancock County as headquarters, over the course of the three
days the girls were shuttled to the Ronald McDonald House,
Holy Family Shelter and Gleaner’s Food Bank, all in Indianapolis,
and led songs and visited with residents at Golden LivingCenter
Along with volunteering, they shared the cards and care
packages they made.
“It’s not exactly work,” says Micah Yason, a
member of St. Michael Parish who will enter Greenfield Central
High School in the fall. “I see it more as
a good way of helping people, of serving others, because
that’s what we’re called to do.”
Mary also finds much reward
in that call: “Mostly what I’ve experienced is that joy
brings joy to others, especially just smiling and being able
to talk with them.”
The focus on serving others was enriched
each day through Mass, prayer time, Gospel discussions and the
opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation.
"You get even closer" to
While the camp provides a connection for the Challenge girls
during the summer, the weekly meetings during the school year
form the core of the program.
“The girls are broken into
teams by grade,” Kube describes. “They meet weekly for an
hour, pray, read and discuss the Gospel, then do activities
to help the Gospel come to life.
“Every meeting, they have
a saint and a virtue they focus on. Then every
two months or so, they complete a service project connected
to the curriculum. Some are very simple, such as a
prayer bouquet for someone in need or helping serve at
a parish event, or more complicated like preparing breakfast at
the local soup kitchen or helping out at the food
Micah says she has learned much through the program.
like going to a Catholic school you’re close to God,
but if you do something after school like Challenge you
get even closer,” she says.
Maya Gutierrez, who will enter seventh
grade at St. Michael School this fall, agrees.
“[The meetings] give
us time to slow down, but we’re still having fun,”
she says. “It lets us think about the Gospel passage
a lot more than in church.”
"… it can be cool
to be Catholic"
The leaders of the weekly meetings and service
projects pose another formative aspect of the Challenge program.
girls team up as leaders for each grade school/junior high
group. In most cases, the team leaders are past Challenge
“There’s a pair of team leads,” Kube explains. “They start
freshman year and get the fifth graders, then have those
girls for four years. They grow with the girls.
leads handle the whole meeting. Adults chaperone, but they’re in
the background. The team leads organize and lead the meetings.
They have nice guide books that take them through it
and suggest activities and projects,” adds Kube. “Plus they have
formal training from consecrated women [of Regnum Christi] about three
times a year.”
Margie Lademan is one such consecrated woman. After
eight years of formation, consecrated women take vows of poverty,
chastity and obedience to dedicate their lives to helping Catholics
grow closer to Christ. Lademan lives in a community with
four other consecrated women of Regnum Christi in Cincinnati.
be more efficient to have older people lead [the meetings],
but it helps the younger girls to really want to
listen and to learn because it’s someone closer to their
age and yet someone they still look up to. It
shows them it can be cool to be Catholic in
“And for the high school girls, it can be
such a grounder for them to have that responsibility and
to keep doing something that keeps them involved and fervent
in their own faith life,” Lademan adds.
Megan Kube, oldest daughter
of Rosie Kube, appreciates the value of being a team
“I think that by teaching virtue and by teaching all
these different lessons, and showing [them to] the girls through
service projects, I have learned them so much more for
“It’s one thing to just listen to someone tell you,
but as a team leader it’s more real to me.
I’ve really taken my faith as my own,” Megan adds.
the high school girls do provide the core of the
leadership, Msgr. William Stumpf, pastor of St. Michael Parish, also
recognizes the impact of the program on the adults who
“Mothers gain from the program and have their faith
strengthened. There’s not just the role model of the older
girls, but all the girls look to their mothers as
"… a great lesson to learn at a young
Msgr. Stumpf sees many other benefits to Challenge as well.
think it’s an excellent program. Girls have an opportunity to
grow in faith—both younger girls who are participants and also
the older ones who serve as role models,” he says.
“And not just girls here in the parish and school,
but also girls not in our school. It’s very inclusive.”
Chipps, a member of St. Nicholas Parish in Ripley County,
appreciates being able to experience the service camp with the
St. Michael’s group. As she heads off to East Central
High School in St. Leon in the fall, she reflects
on lessons that she has learned through Challenge.
“It has definitely
brought me closer to God in a lot of ways.
It teaches you a lot of things about faith, meeting
other people, learning about different ways to pray, getting used
to praying in the morning, and then in the afternoon
and the evening. It really sets you up for life.”
that, says Lademan, is the essence of Challenge.
“Challenge is very
orthodox. It definitely follows the teachings of the Catholic Church.
It complements a Catholic education through helping the girls to
have an experience of the truth of the faith, making
it fun and to their age group,” she says. “That
will grow into something that they believe in and something
that is meaningful for them, so they will go on
to act upon it, share it and live out their
Catholic faith in a more personal and deep way.”
pastor, this is crucial to Msgr. Stumpf.
“It gives them wonderful
footing for the years ahead as they enter high school
and college. It’s shaped them in their personal values,” he
says. “It’s deepened their personal relationship with Christ, and given
them a solid foundation of the teachings of the faith.
focused on charity and the command to love one’s neighbor,
which is a very important lesson for all, but what
a great lesson to learn at a young age.”
information on Challenge, log on to www.challengeclubs.com.)