Teens Encounter Christ?

Hey all,

Has anyone on here been to a Teens Encounter Christ weekend? I have the opportunity to go, but I’m not sure - here’s the things I’m concerned about:

- I'm going into college, and from friends who have gone, a lot of participants are 16....I 
  feel like I'm too old.  I'm wanting to build relationships with Catholics who are my age 
  and older, and subjects concerning apologetics, Theology of the Body, etc.  All my life 
  I've been the leader in every group I joined....my siblings, bible studies, volunteer 
  opportunities.  I would love to sit back and learn for a change, but I don't know if TEC 
  will be that.  

 - I am in love with my faith, I'm encountering Christ.  I feel like I'm not at the same 
   spiritual level of this, that I'm more mature? I've talked to a TEC teacher who we know, 
   explained my experience in Stubenville conferences, and he felt like I had already had 
   the experience TEC aims to give kids.

Basically, I feel like I’m in this “awkward stage” of not being a high school student, but not old enough to be a young adult. I want to develop my faith life because you can never know all there is to know about the Catholic faith, but I don’t know which path to take. When I go to conferences made for Catholic teens, I find myself interacting with the religious sisters, seminarians and adult leaders because a lot of my peers go to the conferences to socialize and goof, while I’m going to work on my spiritual life.

Does anyone have any advice?

God bless,

Chloe M.

I think I know exactly the feeling you’re describing though I am not familiar with TEC.

I attended the Steubenville conferences during high school three times. Once after freshman, sophomore, and junior year. My youth group went for the first time after freshman year. Sweet! It was great! After sophomore year? Still a good time! After junior year at age 16? Eh, not so much, even then at age 16 I was beginning to “age out”. The conference itself was not the main issue…just the youth group I belonged to had an influx of freshmen that year so it was a few juniors and seniors with about 35 freshmen and sophomores. Exactly how you described. To generalize, the upperclassmen were there on a more mature level while the underclassmen were there at a different point of their lives. My junior year of high school I took on a leadership role in the youth group so I definitely felt when I attended the weekend conference more of a chaperone/leader than just an attendee. You can attend the conference as a recent high school graduate (where I believe you are now in life), but I passed. I passed on going for a few reasons. I had “grown out of it”, I didn’t want to be at this point between a chaperone and an attendee, and I also just needed to save money for college.

All in all - I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not going. It was a marvelous transition out of the high school scene, actually. My former high school youth group “graduates” seniors midsummer, so after the conference, and it was a good transition for the group to not have myself or any other seniors with them on the trip because we simply wouldn’t be around a week longer. Not sure if that makes sense…it’s late at night haha…

Anyway, I’m currently in college so I’m just a few years older than you. I think it appears that you have already decided that going to the conference wouldn’t be worthwhile so maybe just follow where your heart is taking you? Pray about it, too!

Also, where are you headed for college? Maybe read into a possible Newman center there? I know a big public university in my state does a summer retreat for incoming freshmen (also holds them the exact same freshmen-orientated various points throughout the year, too…just one in the summer to help get kids involved before school even begins). Also, check out local young adult opportunities! Once you cross into legal adulthood (which you probably are or at least very close to?) and in college, (in my perspective at least) you are sort of cleared to go to any young adult or even some adult-oriented group! Remember: You’re not in high school anymore!

I went to Theology on Tap at age 19! I thought it would be a bit strange because I was under 21 and thought that Theology on Tap meant mostly geared towards those over 21 (hence the Tap part…) but turns out about a good number of those attending (at my ToT, at least) were from my college (we drove as a group) and aged 18-22. Ok, so where I’m getting at this is that you are a young adult and can seek out those opportunities!

I hope this all makes sense. I emphasize with you…it definitely is an awkward transition. Especially that 18-19 age during freshman and sophomore year of college when you’re not in high school but too young to really feel at home in what a lot of parishes call the “twenties groups” Sorry this got a little lengthy…just got off work and am a bit fuzzy brained. I will be praying for you though!

I went on a TEC years ago cough. It was one of the best weekends of my life.

I don’t know how much they have changed, if at all, but if they haven’t, I wouldn’t see this weekend as necessarily building friendships with other Catholics your own age. Everybody’s experience on the weekend is very different. Its not a weekend for fellowship per say, but you can fellowship. Its for meeting God wherever you may be in your faith journey and getting support for that along the way. I did make lifelong friends, but not with the people I expected I would before I went on the retreat. God works in very mysterious ways. I literally can connect the dots from my TEC weekend to meeting my husband and where I am now.

Now you may have been given very good advice that what you are suppose to get out of the weekend, you may have already gotten from the Stuebenville conferences. But God may not want you on this TEC weekend for YOU. He may want you on this TEC weekend to for someone else, to be a mentor so to speak if you are a few years older than the other participants. Maybe instead of looking at TEC as what can I get out of it, maybe pray and ask God if there is another reason you should go other than for your own needs.

Definitely solid advice.

Always good to pray and reflect.

I was glad I went my third year (after junior year of high school) because I did get to fill a very unique role of being an upperclassman. There’s obviously going to be tons of factors that as strangers on CAF we can’t possible know…so pray and see where that leads you. :slight_smile:

Thanks so much to all for the replies and advice! I’m still trying to figure out if TEC is going to be a thing I want to be a part of. I’m in the process of asking some questions to some friends I know have gone. I’ll keep you updated, and continued thoughts are appreciated!

Have a great Monday,

Chloe M.

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to give an update to let you all know that I decided to go to TEC this summer. I made a list of why I didn’t want to go and then saw that each of those items weren’t really worth me no going. For example:

  • “I’m going to be one of the oldest” This is true, but I am the oldest at all my current activities, so its nothing new.

  • “I won’t know anyone” This is also true, but this is supposed to be a Jesus & I weekend, not about who I know and who I don’t.

This really is the best time for this to happen, too. I’m single, Catholic and ready to head of to college. Any extra bit of extra Jesus time is a blessing. Also, it is a gift, so I don’t have to worry about the affect on my budget.

Thanks to all for your help, and have a blessed week!

Chloe M.

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