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Take a faith-filled family-centered field trip

First slide

Grab some sweets at the delectable candy and ice cream emporium on the road to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Md. See the most sacred sites of the Holy Land recreated in the gardens of the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, just a few blocks from the largest Christian church in North America — the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Ponder the wisdom of Pope Francis’ historic environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” while taking a walk in the woods. All these activities sound a lot better than another hour on Zoom, right?


In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity, and the diocesan Office of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministry used the challenge of conducting youth ministry safely during a pandemic to create Encounters — faith-based activities to engage young people. Each Encounter is designed to help families or small groups learn about the faith in a nonclassroom setting. The Encounters, which can be viewed online or downloaded and printed in English or Spanish, contain resources on a specific site or activity, accompanied by reflection questions, additional reading, restaurant recommendations and suggested side trips to nearby parks and memorials.


For example, the Encounter Black Catholic History module encourages a visit to St. Joseph Church in Alexandria, the Alexandria African American Heritage Memorial Park and the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery. While on the go, Encounterers can listen to a Spotify playlist with music from Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman and podcasts on racism and notable Black Catholics. Other suggested activities include shopping at Pauline Books and Media in Old Town and reading the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter against racism.


Many of the Encounters are mini pilgrimages to nearby places such as the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington or the Catholic sites of “Little Rome” in Washington. But for those who prefer a culinary journey, Capuchin Brother Andrew Corriente, winner of “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition,” has provided recipes for snacks associated with different saints, such as chocolate and rose eclairs for St. Thérèse of Lisieux.


Not all of the places listed in the Encounters are open currently due to pandemic restrictions, but Kevin Bohli, executive director of the Office of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministry, hopes these faith-filled field trips will be an evergreen resource for families and parishes. In addition to the seven modules available now, his team plans to release more Encounters soon, including one on sacred Scripture.


“We wanted to create something for families to pull kids off their screens and for parents to be able to be the ones that are truly passing on the faith to their children,” he said. “(It’s) something fun that a family can do together and enjoy learning about the faith through baking or hiking or whatever it is.”


Find out more


To view the Encounters, go to arlingtondiocese.org/encounters.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020