As a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christ for almost 20 years, Kathleen Almon has participated in over 30 missions across the United States and in Mexico with hundreds of missionaries. And in June of last year, Kathleen started a new role as National Director of Mission Youth, a Regnum Christi apostolate devoted to engaging young people, adults, and families in evangelization and spreading Christ’s message through missions both local and abroad. Kathleen works together with a national team including Fr. Michael Moriarty, LC, in Philadelphia, and Shari Schexnayder in Louisiana. As a team, their goal is to be a model and support for local missions in communion, missionary zeal, and service to the Church. They work in close communication and collaboration with the local Mission Youth Chapter leaders.
Kathleen originally met Regnum Christi when she was ten years old and was very active in ECYD. As a teenager, she went on missions around Texas, her home state, in Indianapolis and in Mexico. As a Consecrated Woman, she has served in schools and youth work in Washington DC, Dallas and Houston, and in Pueblo and Monterrey, Mexico.
Mission Youth was at first established as a response to Pope John Paul II’s apostolic commission to the youth present at World Youth Day in Denver in August of 1993:
“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns, and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel; it is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of the comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern ‘metropolis.’ It is you who must ‘go out into the byroads’ and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference.”
Today, Mission Youth is an international apostolate, present in over 15 countries worldwide. In all their missions, Mission Youth seeks a two-fold objective: to offer effective service and evangelization outreach to a local community in union with their pastoral plan, and to form the participants into missionary disciples. For Kathleen, it is an incredible opportunity to be a part of an apostolate that has such a large scope and is used by all members of the spiritual family: ECYD boys and girls, Regnum Christi members, Legionaries priests, and Consecrated Men and Women. “It is an apostolate that allows us to be at the direct service of our local parishes and bishops, serving alongside them in the work of evangelization.”
But the fruits of Mission Youth don’t end when the mission is over; for Kathleen, the mission is meant to be just a spark that ignites the innate calling in the heart of each participant so that they can continue to live out their missionary lifestyle in their daily life, wherever they are. “Some go back and serve their local home parish, some join Regnum Christi, some discover a consecrated vocation, some become full-time missionaries, and others bring this missionary awareness to their families, schools, and workplaces,” says Kathleen. “The foundational conviction of Mission Youth is that all Catholics are called by their baptism to be missionary disciples. So all are welcome to join in the missionary efforts.”
Before COVID, each year Mission Youth was offering an average of 15 international missions and had about 3000 Holy Week missionaries. Now, the focus of the Mission Youth team is to reopen and rebuild so that the apostolate can continue to operate and flourish regardless of circumstances. “The need for evangelization always exists,” says Kathleen, who is excited about the challenge and opportunity to restore and reenergize the international ministry.
And there are plenty of exciting new things happening now with Mission Youth. There are six established local Mission Youth chapters that provide regular, ongoing evangelization to their communities, and upcoming missions for the 2022 Holy Week being established in 15 cities across the United States and Canada. As well, there are three domestic mission sites ready to receive missionaries this year, and several international missions sites, including Ivory Coast, Mexico, Columbia, and Guatemala.
Holy Week is always a key moment of evangelization for Mission Youth; it is a pivotal time to share the message of Christ’s saving love. This year’s Holy Week theme is “Called by Name,” and will feature a new song by Fr. Adam Zettel, LC (listen to the theme song here).
And on Friday, March 11th, Mission Youth will be launching its Called By Name Campaign, during which time they will be sharing highlights of previous missions, and testimonies and stories of what it looks like to live out the life of a Mission Youth missionary. They will also be inviting those who would like to support this apostolate to do so through promoting and participating in upcoming missions in their own localities, providing for the missions with supplies or a monetary donation, and of course, praying for this year’s Holy Week missions. “Please pray for our missionaries and the fruits of our efforts that they may be always rooted in God,” says Kathleen. “Our missions only bear fruit when they are rooted in God’s grace.”
To find out more about the Mission Youth Called By Name campaign, its upcoming Holy Week missions across the United States and Canada, as well as both domestic and international summer mission options, visit their website at missionyouth.com, or find them on Facebook at missionyouthmissions or on Instagram @mission.youth. To help provide for the missions and keep them going year round, consider becoming a monthly donor at missionyouth.com/donate. For more information about Mission Youth, sign up for their newsletter or email [email protected].