By Kelly Luttinen
Challenge and Conquest generate interest at the National Conference of Catholic Youth Ministers
Orlando, Florida — More than 400 leaders in youth ministry expressed interest in bringing Challenge or Conquest to their church communities, according to the national leaders who attended the recent National Conference for Catholic Youth Ministers in Orlando, Florida.
They participated in the 3-day event as one of about 200 exhibitors. More than 3000 Catholic youth ministers were in attendance, including Directors of Religious Education and Diocesan directors from all over the country.
“We spoke personally to about 400 participants who showed interest and excitement in getting to know more about Challenge and Conquest as something new that they could offer at their respective parishes,” said Todd Brechbill, Conquest National Director.
“Fifteen new Challenge and Conquest programs were initiated during the convention,” said Nadine McMillan, National Director of Challenge. “These people were able to purchase our program materials there on the spot.”
“Many people took our catalogs to show their parish priest and staff back home,” said Todd. “We even had a few youth ministers and diocesan directors visit the booth several times, bringing friends with them and enthusiastically explaining what Challenge and Conquest were all about.”
Both Nadine and Todd wanted to extend a special thanks to Fr. Robert DeCesare, LC, Fr. Timothy Moran LC, and Br. Peter Krezalek, LC, who helped run the “very busy” Challenge /Conquest booth during the conference.
They received “very positive feedback” about what Challenge/Conquest have to offer. “We are encouraged by how we can help with the Church´s mission and assist youth ministers in their desire to bring kids closer to Christ,” said Todd.
Youth ministers who visited the booth said they appreciated that Conquest and Challenge programs offer “something for everyone,” including materials for adult leaders and team leaders, prayer books, calendars, and kits for the girls and boys participating.
“Our program leader materials help kids to organize into groups that can be led by the teens themselves,” said Nadine. “Such programs are desperately needed in parishes because adult volunteers are always scarce.”
Nadine said Challenge and Conquest were at the NCCYM conference in New Orleans two years ago, and since then she and Todd have surveyed those attending, and consequently reshaped Challenge and Conquest programs to better fit what youth ministers need and are looking for. “We listened to them and redesigned our programs,” she said. “Now they are more recognized and relevant in the world of Catholic youth ministry.”
Challenge and Conquest offer the following advantages for parishes:
- teen-led peer mentoring program
- service driven
- gender-specific curriculum
- curriculum based off of kids´ questions
- curriculum focused on developing virtue
- curriculum focused on the message of Gospel and the lives of the saints
“Youth ministers at the convention wanted to know more about our comprehensive curriculum for 5th through 12th graders, that were designed using the real questions kids ask,” said Todd. “The programs feature weekly themes, activities, gospel reflections and saint stories for each age group.”
Another attractive aspect of Conquest/Challenge programs is that they feature apostolic service projects as part of the curriculum.
“We offer over 40 different project options that have been tested and proven to work,” said Todd.