“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” — Proverbs 31:25-26
This is the type of young woman that Challenge Youth Group helps build. Through discussions, fun activities, Gospel readings, and apostolic projects, the girls are sculpted by Christ into strong, dignified, intelligent, and loving young women.
What is Challenge? It’s a youth group for girls in fifth through eighth grade that meets twice monthly at St. Mary Church in Oak Ridge. The girls are split up into groups by their grade, so they are with girls their age and which aids in easier small-group discussions. Over snacks and drinks, they discuss a monthly saint and a virtue they possess. The group reads the Gospel, and the girls lead themselves in prayer. Their discussions about the saint and virtue, the Gospel, and how their own lives play into it all, are led by high school girls. Most of the leaders are Challenge veterans themselves.
Once a month, the girls go to vigil Mass as a group with the Conquest boys. Finally, everyone is invited for fun in the gym, including volleyball, kickball, and more. Challenge Youth Group is a place for the daughters of the Church to grow in their faith with friends and fun.
While each meeting begins with the monthly saint and virtue discussions, a portion of time is devoted to an apostolic project. The girls learn that an apostolic project is one that takes after the apostles themselves in going out and spreading their faith. The group participates in two projects a year.
In the first semester of 2016-17, the girls were asked to pick a project they would be interested in doing and vote on the best idea in their small groups.
Then they met as one group to choose one project. The girls voted to make their own baby blankets to provide to the women at the Catholic Charities Pregnancy Help Center in LaFollette. They spent their next meetings measuring, cutting, and making unique blankets for each woman to take home with her. As a separate Christmas project, the girls baked and decorated cookies to bring to the people of the parish.
In the second semester, the girls worked together to bring their service back to their home parish. They organized and hosted the Rock ’n’ Roll fundraiser, a roller-skating fundraiser complete with bake sale and raffle prizes. All of their hard work raised enough money for a fire pit at the youth building. Now the youth group can enjoy s’mores and spend time around the fire together, all thanks to their hard work.
Overall, Challenge Youth Group is a fun way the girls of the parish can gather to strengthen their faith and themselves. Through the leadership of teen leaders and adult mentors, they can grow as individuals while still having a helping hand when they need it. When the girls go to high school they have the option to come back and be teen leaders for middle schoolers or join the communications team, which does the behind-the- scenes work to make it all come together (for the girls not as comfortable with leading a group).