Thursday, January 03, 2013
I am currently sitting in a large auditorium with about 150 young people who are all members of NET Ministry teams this year. Outside the temperature is -10 C and the snow is gently falling: a real winter scene!
Inside the team members are being refreshed in the formation they received at the beginning of last term when they first came to NET (the acronym stands for National Evangelisation Teams). I am impressed that their initial training lasted five whole weeks. The first two weeks were spent in log cabins and consisted of an authentic human formation where the young people learned about human relationships, and the imperatives associated with their dignity as sons and daughters of God. In fact I have noticed that whenever you speak with one of them this sense of divine filiation is very much at the heart of what they do. It is their reason for acting and giving themselves in love to their brothers and sisters. The following three weeks were back at the NET centre here in Minneapolis and were concerned more with equipping them with the spiritual and intellectual formation that would be required before they could go out on the road in teams of twelve or so to run retreats and missions in schools and parishes all over the country.
They are back here for their January training: a chance to refresh what they have already learned and to deepen some aspects of it. There is a lot of time given to prayer and fellowship and some new input as well. I have been asked to give a talk on the Year of Faith and the New Evangelisation.
If I were to sum up in one word what has impressed me most so far the word would be "formation". NET has thirty years of experience distilled into the formation it offers. It recognises that support and formation are key and because it is structured it has the confidence to entrust formation and support to some of the young people themselves.
Each team has two team leaders. Every week the team leaders touch base with team supervisors back at the Centre. The supervisors live in two common houses: one for men and one for women. They themselves receive formation in the course of the year.
There is a great sense of joy and fellowship here. I look forward to learning more!