Sunday, December 11, 2016

Good News of Great Joy

Not everyone experiences Christmas the same way. And it's sad, and it makes us all sad, but it's true. Some people are alone this holiday. For some people, it will be their last holiday, and they know it. Some people are far away from those they love, some people feel they have no one who loves them enough to make a journey over to them.

But today is Gaudete Sunday--you know, the pink candle. It's a celebration in the middle of a penitential season of waiting. Why are you bringing up all this sadness in the middle of what should be a joyful occasion?

Well, here's the thing: our generation (and it's happened in every generation, it's just very public now thanks to the interweb) likes to take things that people celebrate, and they like to look at the dark side of it. Or, more often, they like to question why you aren't doing more. Why aren't you donating more? Why aren't you taking more action? Why are you looking at this charity or this service instead of this one? What are you? A biggot? A hypocrite? How can you be happy when there is so much suffering in the world?

And on, and on...

The thing we have to remember is that there is still something to celebrate. In fact, there's lots of celebrate. Because, despite all the tragedies of the world, the fact that people are able, anywhere, to be happy, is in and of itself a celebration-worthy occasion. The fact that people who have a lot are giving of themselves to those who don't have as much is inspiring. We shouldn't be angry at them because they're not just as in-need as everyone else. We should be looking around in our own lives to see if we could be doing the same thing to those who don't have as much as we do. And when we're able to give of ourselves and get that warm, cuddly feeling of having helped someone, even in the smallest of ways, we should celebrate.

Don't let anyone take that from you.

For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.'"

Luke 2:10-11

Much love, and we'll see you next year!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Monday, December 5, 2016

Boughs of Holly

It's finally here: the seasonal preparation for one of the world's favorite holidays. Advent, in all its hot-chocolate-drinking, carol-singing, neighbor-helping glory.

I know when I was growing up, Advent was one of my favorite times of the year--almost more so than Christmas, though I never really understood why. We tend to take this season for granted, especially when we consider the fact that most of us think of this season when we hear the term "Christmas." Because Advent is that special time of preparation that gives us all tinglies in our tummy because it's a season of anticipation.

Whether we're anticipating toys, the end of the nonstop commercializing, or a big old turkey leg; I think we can all agree that this season can really bring out the best in us. Not all the time, of course. It can be incredibly lonely or sad to those of us who don't have that Star of Bethlehem to journey towards, but for those of us who are warmed by its light, it's the sharing of it with everyone else that makes the season really enjoyable.

We're talking about the lead-up to Christmas--peace to men of good will. Joy to the world! The literal birth of Jesus! It's this element that looms in the background, soaking into our lives and helping remind us about what makes us the best versions of ourselves. It's a season that so deeply affects us, whether we believe the same thing or not, that it's become the source of all of this craziness once a year. Yes, the commercialization comes a-creeping just after Halloween (and often times before it), but with it comes the desire to treat our brother with dignity and respect. To go out of our way to give of ourselves--of our time, our money, our selves--out of good will toward our fellow man.

This season is not one to be taken lightly. It's one of those times that can make or break us: bring out the best or the worst. It's a time of anticipation, of preparation, and of improvement. A time to look closely at ourselves, but also a time to look outward and to give of ourselves. Take this time to  really reflect on what makes this time so special to you specifically: and use it to make yourself the best that you can be.

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Taking the Call

The word "prayer" gets a bad wrap, you know? It's kind of sad. Because when you actually talk about it with people, I haven't come face to face with a lot of people who would tell me that prayer is an inherently bad thing. In fact, they don't even find it annoying when they really think about it. But, somehow, whenever someone says, in passing, "I'll pray for you," or every time someone starts up a Rosary, I think the majority of us tend to inhale rather sharply. And no one seems to know why.

It's one of those unfortunate facts of life that we tend to look on prayer as something of an over-pious activity, especially when we're in high school. I went through it. My parents went through it. Their parents went through it. Of course, there are those who take to it like ducks to water, but there will always be those who look sideways at those ducks.

Most of us have this picture in our heads of "prayer" being kneeling with your head bowed reciting incantations, and the first thing we all say when we imagine it that way is that we simply don't have time for that. We are getting to the point where the ticking of the clock is beginning to rule our lives, and we have things to do and places to be, doggone it!

One of my dad's favorite prayers was a two-word one used in the famous musical, "The Sound of Music," when Maria first arrives at that big mansion and it suddenly hits her just how terrifying her situation is. It goes like this:

"Oh help."

Best. Prayer. Ever.

We need to stop thinking of prayer as this exclusively incantation-related thing. True, some of the most powerful forms of prayer (for example, the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, heck, even the Our Father and Hail Mary), and certainly the most well-known, come in this format. But the fact of the matter is we need to be praying with our very lives. With our actions and our works. For that matter, there are hundreds of forms of prayer--seriously...hundreds. What we need to do, especially now that we're old enough to understand the concept of prayer, is find a form of prayer that works for us. Journaling? Service? Straight-up daily Rosaries?

Try them all on for size. Find what works, find what doesn't work. But pray. Never stop praying.

Much love!
Ceci Galvin

Sunday, November 6, 2016

To Men of Goodwill

Remember that old saying that our moms used to spew out at us whenever we were in a volcanic argument with a sibling: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"?

When we really take a moment to look back on this, what exactly is this saying accomplishing? Telling you to keep quiet if you disagree with someone? Not exactly. What our parents usually mean by this is that were not supposed to whip out an insult whenever we feel insulted. It's especially potent when considering that children have the propensity to be insulted by anything and everything.

But, these days, when every little thought is so easily shot out into the universe via the internet, it's easier for us to regress back to those childhood days when hurt feelings would be immediate cause to spit out a "stupidhead" that would get us tossed right into writing-I-will-not-say-stupidhead-1,000-times territory. Except, of course, we're older now. Our words are a little more volatile, our meanings are a little more acidic. And every time someone brings us to that boiling point, we find that we've even more deeply entrenched ourselves into our world view because we don't like the idea of someone who hurt our feelings being right.

This Tuesday, it's going to get heated--as if it hasn't been bad enough already. I've heard the saying "Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out" being tossed around quite a bit by both sides these days, ironically enough. And while it's easy to think of ourselves as that sole member of society who believes the right thing (who IS open-minded, but also grounded), we have to remember that pretty much every other person out there is going to feel the same way. And the worst possible way to see things from another person's point of view, or to get anyone to see things from our point of view, is to play the "stupidhead" game when they don't instantly agree.

When Tuesday rolls around, whatever happens is going to happen, and we should all play our part to uphold the teachings of the church and to exercise our rights as Americans and as Catholics. But let's also remember that we're not "fighting" against a "cause" as though we were the protagonists in the latest young adult novel about some dystopian society. The "sides" we perceive are composed of human beings who have beliefs. And it's important to view them as we would want to be viewed: first and foremost as people. Not ignorant people. Not uninformed people. Not wrong people.

Just people.

So, as we careen toward the next election, let us take the time to remember that our mothers' saying still applies.

And so does Jesus's...

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

~Matthew 22:37-40

Much love!
Ceci Galvin

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ghouls and Goblins

Halloween: that particularly spooky time of year in which costumes and Jack-O-Lanterns rule the world, and tooth-rot becomes the new TV. Such fun.

Halloween was a way of life for us when we were kids. There was this sense of motivation in the air and we never worked harder in our lives for candy. The costumes, the get-togethers, the traditional 30-person candy-swap that took place after every Trick-Or-Treating Session.

There's a fair amount of nostalgia and whimsy that comes with this time of year, and we learned historically from last night why. I never used to think about why we used to do the things we did, we just sort of went with it: dressed up and knocked on doors like normal, healthy humans. It wasn't until we got older and started taking a look around that Halloween lost a bit of its sheen. Dressing up was kind of a chore, and trick-or-treating was just for little kids.Why had we always put in so much effort?

I think it's just one of those weird factoids of life that most people go through a phase of "coolness" before they come to their senses. It's just a shame that it would have to be in roughly middle school or high school. Because, when you think about it, that's when you could be out there having the most fun if you really wanted to. You could really embrace the spirit of Halloween: not as the holiday we love to not think about, or as that "cult-night" we all hear about, but as well-formed and well-informed people who understand the benefits of acknowledging the spiritual at all. Let's face it: in today's day and age, you're not going to get a lot of that, and certainly not from a healthy viewpoint when you do. How much more helpful would it be to have a group of teenagers who not only know what Halloween is all about, but who keep that sense of wonder and liveliness around for the younger generations, so that they can learn about it too when the time comes? How against the grain would that be? How unnatural and almost weird?

But hey, it's Halloween. The perfect time for all things weird and crazy.

Pass it on.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Please "Confirm" Receipt


With a capital C-O-N-F-I-R-M-A-T--I-O-N!!!

I don't know about you guys, but this particular Sacrament was not one that I could get fully behind until I was seeing it from the other side. Sure, it was cool, and I was stoked to be "part of the club" as it were, but I didn't really know what I was in for. I don't know if anyone really does until they're viewing it in retrospect.

It's kind of like marriage. The wedding is beautiful and wonderful and everyone comes and everyone sees it happen, but the marriage is what happens when you're not in the middle of the dance floor with "I Only Have Eyes For You" playing and pictures being taken and toasts being made and your mom crying because 'her baby is getting married.'

Everyone thinks of "Confirmation" the way they think of a wedding. It's a cool ceremony, and check out those hip robes (isn't that a riot?), and yay--oil! And yay--Saints! And whoa! Is that literally the Bishop? That's literally the Bishop!

But the actuality of it doesn't hit until later. Because we're adults now. We have jobs to do in the church now. Look--we even have mentors who have been through the ringer to guide us through the noob stuff that everyone has to go through when they're just coming into the company and need to learn the ropes. Just like a real job! Except our mentors are Saints and sponsors. The most legit mentors ever to mentor a mentee.

And now here you are, on the outside looking in. You have the ability now to be a mentor to all these newcomers. You can choose to set the example for these fledglings. Because, when it comes down to it, the true test of confirmation is not the list of questions from the Bishop that you answered with trembling knees when you were sitting there in your red robe waiting to get oil smeared on your forehead. The true test is whether or not you'll be a good mentor when the time comes for those kids on the other side to follow your example.

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Monday, October 10, 2016

Well...That Was Awkward

This is when it gets hilarious, y'all.

Here's the deal with awkward topics: they never really go away. As we said last night, you'll probably hear about how things get better when you get older, but honestly, it just gets more awkward. Except once you're "adulting," the world just expects you to...I don't know, handle it better or something.

What I find impressive is just how well you guys did manage all the awkwardness at the meeting. "Chastity." Not exactly the easiest thing to talk about.

But you guys were so classy about it. It was impressive. And that's not something we get to see very often, unfortunately. A lot of times, and this was something we talked about, it's looked down upon to be different from the crowd. But you guys managed to be really good examples of "the bubble," even with something that may seem unimportant short-term: you are a truly good group of people. And this will make it so much simpler going forward when dealing with all the awkward stuff like this. Because, not only will you be able to understand it from the correct perspective, but you'll be able to help each other out. Since, after all, making it simpler doesn't necessarily make it easier, and having people around to help us when those different morals make us feel alone. You kids are truly great human beings.

This was evidenced not only by how you handled the topic of epic awkwardness, but by your willingness (hilarious as it was) to share the things you've learned with the Confirmation Candidates through your letter writing. Some of us even know a handful of the candidates, and I'm sure you'd agree they'll be super-stoked to get them.

Thanks for everything, and continue being awesome in the face of all that awkwardness. Because there's going to be a lot of it.

Much love!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mom and Co.

"Would You Rather" is always fun. It tells you a lot about someone by what they choose, and it's helpful when they explain why they choose it.

There are a lot of things we have to take by faith because we can't see it. We weren't actually around for the Crucifixion, or the Nativity, or the Annunciation, so we didn't get to personally talk to Mom and Baby J. The vast majority of us have to go by what we know from experience and trust that these people are looking out for us. Our eyes may be closed, but we're still carried.

Ha! It's like the game!

A mom is almost always going to be that reassuring presence in our lives, whether or not we see it that way at times. She's always got our back. And those siblings of ours, how different would our lives be without their love and support. And I don't mean the biological siblings with whom we roughhouse and bicker and squabble. I mean the awesome people on the medals we wear around our necks, the people whose stories we know so well. Don't forget that they're around too. That they are part of our family, and that family looks out for one another.

And when I say "look out for one another," let's not forget that it goes both ways. That we owe it to them to love them. To talk to them, even if it's just a phone call to Mom (like a decade or two) to say hi. To keep the equivalent of "a wallet picture" with us. Why else would we do these things? Why else would we have all those statues around? The miraculous medals? The holy cards?

Because we love our family. And we know they love us. And even if we don't see them all the time, we like to remember that they're there. So the next time someone asks about what the deal is with "Mom," or wonders why we pray to statues (love that one), just let them know gently that this is your family. And that's what families do when they love one another: they show it to the world.

Much love!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Claims - Introduction

The introduction to "Claims" was lots of fun. You guys are hard-core debaters, and it's going to be incredibly helpful.

It's funny how we have such strong opinions about things that we all admit are fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things. How easy it is to fight over musical tastes or books or movies. And I don't mean disagree, I mean straight up fight. Of course, opinions are one thing, and Faith is another.

So, as it's said, it's always best to know how deep the waters are before diving in. To know what you're about and what you believe before "looking for a fight," as we jokingly said in passing on Sunday. So it's always helpful to be able to arm yourself with friends and knowledge when you go out into a world that isn't exactly made for our ease of mind. As we go forward in the series, I hope we'll be able to equip ourselves with accountability buddies, and the ability to understand what we've always been taught, so that we will be able to gently teach it to others, whether or not they are influenced by it.

"The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out."
Proberbs 18:15

Much love!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


It was certainly fun for us this past Sunday night to see you guys running around the field, lifting and sprinting and doing wacky activities. Many thanks for getting all your members out of the radioactive zone, and special thanks to those who sacrificed life and limb (figuratively) to help their teammates.

Games are one thing, and real life is another, however. Hopefully none of us will be asked to give our sight, speech, legs, or life for something as horribly drastic as the scenario we dreamed up for you last night, but, as we said, there are always going to be little sacrifices along the way of a faithful Catholic life, if we're doing everything right. Whether it be time, material possessions, our own personal sense of comfort, or even the image we have of ourselves--we're all going to end up sacrificing some things for our own good and for God's glory. These are little things that somehow always tend to seem immense when we're in high school, but when we looked at them in comparison Sunday night to what people have sacrificed for us--how trivial it all might appear.

These days, it's hard to tell just what we'll be called upon to sacrifice as young Catholics. There is a resonating quote typically attributed to either Archbishop Charles Chaput or to Cardinal Francis George that goes, "I expect to die in my bed; I expect my successor to die in jail; I expect his successor to die a martyr."

It can be scary, and if/when stuff starts to go down, we'll all have each other to lean on and trust and be a part of together. But, in the meantime, it's enough to know to sacrifice the little things, a la St. Therese the Little Flower, for the glory of God. So the next time your little sibling is bothering you? Offer it up. Actually ask them about what they want to talk about. The next time your school is seeming overwhelming? Ask for help and conquer it. Sacrifice a little bit of the idea of being the smartest person on the planet in order to turn in a job well done at this moment in time.

It may seem trivial, it may seem trite, but it can only help to make the world a better place; so that when that day does come where we all have to band together for the really big sacrifices, we'll at least have had some practice.

Much love!
Ceci Galvin
Coordinator of Youth Ministries
St. John the Evangelist 

Monday, August 29, 2016


The school year--it has come again. And for us as teachers and for you as students, this is symbolized by the national holiday for which we all receive a day off before we nose dive back into the thick of it: Labor Day.

Last night at meeting we did a lot of self-exploration. Some of it was how society defined us (and, let's face it, society doesn't always do an awesome job of defining us), and some of it was how we could be said to define ourselves. One of the main ways that people tend to define themselves in our society is by the work that we do: the labor. You are students. I'm a teacher. Some people are mechanics, others are airline pilots; some are writers, some are singers, and some are athletes. Whenever you ask a person "who are you?" their job tends to be one of the first things they give out.

And there's something to be said for that. Like we said last night: everyone brings different gifts to the table. Our jobs are a way of differentiating from one person to the next. It tells you immediately what you're good at and in what ways we can help one another. "I teach your children, you fix my car. I grow crops, you manufacture computers." It's all circular.

When you think of "the workforce," you probably think of something far away that old crusty people (like...20 year olds, ack!) are a part of, not as something that pretty much everyone is going to join someday soon. But, one way or another, all of us are going to be called to serve each other. In one way or another, we are all called to use our own personal gift for the good of someone else. And there's something really special about knowing that you, and only you, are capable of doing the work you are called for in the way that you're called to do it. Only you have that unique set of traits and talents that can be used to glorify God in your own individual way.

Each person's work is unique to them, and so, this Labor Day, we should take the time to really appreciate the work that has been done for us over the years that had brought us to this point in our lives today. From our mothers and our fathers, to our teachers and our bosses, to those waiters and waitresses who give their time to get us our grub, to the mechanics who enable us to roam the world and the IT consultants who enable us to explore it within the comforts of our own homes: let us take this time to nourish a healthy respect for every person's individual talents, and their willingness to give it back to the world; and let us ready our own talents and gifts for the world for when we're ready to be a part of the workforce that helps us so much.

Remember: NO HIGH SCHOOL MEETING on Sunday, Sept 4th. Have a relaxing, blessed Labor Day!

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
Youth Director

Monday, August 22, 2016

Know Thyself

Go out of your way to do something nice for someone you don't know well, even if that something is simple or small.

Many thanks to all who came out for the Youth Group Kickoff last night on Aug. 21st! Lots of smiling faces and fun personalities, and it was wonderful to see everyone having at least one person to talk to by the end of the evening. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, even if only peripherally, and found that a lot of us had some quirky, funny, or serious things in common with one another.

As we go forward in our series, something to think about as we get to know each other is how well we really know ourselves. And not just what the latest Buzzfeed quiz tells us about ourselves, but who WE really are. What makes you uniquely you? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Do some exploration into those 4-Corner questions you were asked last night. Some of us moved when we were asked if we worried about what people thought of us, or if we considered ourselves awkward, smart, funny, or forgetful. Why? What makes us that way? Why would The Big Man choose those specific traits to give especially to you? How well do we really know ourselves?

Next week, join us as we do some self-evaluation, and brush the tip of the iceberg that is "the self." And let's not forget that there's always Someone around who knows us better than we could ever hope to know ourselves...

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways."
~Psalms 139:1-3

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
Youth Minister

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Nice to Meet You

Hello there, you beautiful rays of sunshine!

This is crazy for us, because a lot of stuff is happening and it's happening really fast. Summer is almost at a close, it would seem (nooooo!) and here we are, getting ready to enter August and wondering just what the next school year will bring us. Intimidating stuff.

And, of course, change can be freaky sometimes. Newness, more often than not, can be scary as well as cool. Believe me, I'm nervous to be new, just as I'm sure some people are nervous to have all my newness around. But it's always good for us to remember that The Big Man has it all under control. Even if our knees are knocking, or our arms are crossed and our brows furrowed, He's up there serenely handling everything, whether or not it seems like it.

So let's get to know each other! Heaven knows I'm excited to meet all of you (or to see you again after not-so-long, for some of you), and I can't wait to start working with you guys. Feel free to contact me if ever you have any questions or comments--I would love to hear from you!

I will see you amazing parents at the Meet and Greet on August 20th (6:00-7:00 pm in the Youth Center), I'll see you wonderful high schoolers at the Kick-Off on August 21st (6:30-8:30 pm in the Youth Center), and you fabulous middle schoolers at your first meeting on September 18th (6:30-8:30 pm in the Youth Center)! 

Stay updated with all your Youth Ministry events on the home page! Can't wait to see you!

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
Youth Minister