|Young Mission Corps men and women joined together for a co-ed youth activity during Holy Week.|
In recent years, more high school graduates have decided to
take a year off before entering college to perform missionary
work or public service. This is sometimes referred to as
a “gap year” or “deferred year” or, as it is
called at Princeton University, a “bridge year.” It is a
time for students to clarify their interests and goals, develop
organizational and life skills and become more globally aware, among
Mission Corps is the Regnum Christi version of the
“bridge year” program for young Catholics to expand their horizons
and serve others as youth missionaries. Mission Corps director, Fr.
Martin Connor, LC, describes the program as “an opportunity for
young men and women to grow and mature in ways
that they probably have never been able to before.”
Corps concept has existed for many years as the Co-Worker
program, but was renamed and re-designed two years ago and
designed to be more relevant to the issues of human
maturity that face young people today. Fr. Martin describes the
growth in maturity as, “first and foremost a personal way
to understand the beauty, goodness and truth that is part
of healthy human development. This happens through forming a healthy
and balanced brotherhood or sisterhood, creating a common value system,
new adventures and experiences. Second, they grow spiritually – learning
the positive and negative aspects of themselves as well as
getting to know God better.”
This past summer, 38 young
men spent four weeks in Mission Corps “basic training” at
Our Lady of Thornwood Conference and Education Center in New
York. The men will primarily serve in the United States,
but they came from eight different countries: Ireland, France, Germany,
Spain, Mexico, Canada, Poland and the United States. The missionaries’
cultural exchange provides a broadening experience as they work, play
and socialize together.
|A group of young Mission Corps women on a pilgrimage to Rome.|
Young Mission Corps women receive their basic training
at Queen of the Family Retreat Center in Oxford, Michigan.
In a real sense, both the men and women are
on an extended spiritual retreat. Here, perhaps for the first
time in their lives, they have a chance to listen
to God’s silent beckoning and their spiritual, social, human, and
intellectual facets blossom in a beautiful way. Through their training
and classes they are given the criteria and tools to
discern right from wrong and to make balanced decisions.
training is finished, they travel to their mission destination in
groups of 4 or 5. As members of Legionary communities
or teams of consecrated women they will learn the value
of hard work and cooperation, gain greater self-confidence, make new
connections, and learn what life is all about in the
context of their Catholic faith.
Making a Difference
Some of their
training involves being equipped to help with parish youth groups.
Many of them will lead confirmation retreats. Last year’s missionaries
in the Archdiocese of New York offered 26 confirmation retreats.
They also help to run Conquest clubs for boys and
Challenge clubs for girls, organize and lead Holy Week Missions,
|Missionaries rally together before playing soccer against a team of seminarians.|
and provide age-appropriate programs on the theology of the body.
Timothy Moots, a Mission Corps volunteer last year,
explained how important was for him to identify with the
teens he was working with. When he observed a basically
“good kid” being tempted toward bad behavior he realized, “This
is me at his age.” At that point he understood
that “a missionary must see himself and then Christ in
the kids around him. Then he will come to grips
with why he is here – so these kids won’t
turn out like he could have without God’s grace.”
this is an important “bridge year” between youth and adulthood
for the Mission Corp volunteer, there is something even greater
than his own personal development that can take place. Missionaries
have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives
of teenagers just a few years younger than themselves. As
model Catholics, they become a bridge for other teenagers to
develop a stronger, more personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
are gratefully accepted to help subsidize the expenses of our
Mission Corps missionaries. If you are a high-school graduate or
college student who would like to donate a year of
service through Mission Corps, you may contact Fr. Martin at
FrMartin@LegionofChrist.org for more information.
If you want a real taste
of the Mission Corps experience, complete with photos and videos,
visit the RCMC Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RCMissionCorps)