Youth Program in Action
When Saint Meinrad students depart in May for their summer break, the campus drifts into its warm-weather schedule. But the routine is anything but laid-back, as hundreds of high school students start arriving on the Hill to be part of the "One Bread, One Cup" (OBOC) program.
Meghan Hernandez, 21, of Las Vegas, Nev., has been taking part in the program for five years. She attended twice as a high school student and, for the last three years, has been one of the college interns in the program.
College interns spend six weeks of the summer at Saint Meinrad. During the three conference weeks, they become part of the conference staff. The rest of their time is spent in formation classes, on service projects and in community building.
"It's been nice to learn the Benedictine hospitality and spirituality and be able to pass that on throughout the internship," she says.
During the summer of 2010, 256 high school students attended one of three five-day conferences, along with 103 adults, mostly youth and campus ministers. Twenty-one college students were OBOC interns.
"Throughout these past five years, I've noticed extreme growth within the program," notes Meghan. "We've grown in diversity, we've grown in numbers, and we've grown in the different amounts of people that come to this place."
The program began modestly in 1995 as a way to bring potential college students to campus when Saint Meinrad College was operating. With a grant from the Lilly Endowment, OBOC developed into a focused effort to teach teens about their Catholic faith and its liturgy and to develop their leadership skills.
One of the things the kids take home is a set of skills that can be used in their home parishes or at their schools. Students pick from sessions that teach them to be sacristans, lectors, Eucharistic ministers and other roles. Within a day, they're trying their new skills at OBOC's daily Mass and prayer services.
Meghan explains, "This place has definitely affected our parish back at home. We now have two interns from Las Vegas and a lot of our youth have been here, and so we're starting to build upon a youth Mass and have a youth band at Mass."
"We're seeing the impacts that take place in the liturgy, along with the leadership of the youth ministry in our church…. It's really wonderful that they can come together after being here on the Hill and put their experience to work back in the parish."
The program has grown in recent years, with some parishes returning year after year with new groups of high school students. "I feel like the youth who come here continue to be diverse and continue to be at different levels of faith, which helps the program grow and helps the program continue to be what it is today," comments Meghan.
In Meghan's experience, "One Bread, One Cup" is a way to hand down the Catholic tradition to the next generation. "I feel like young people aren't aware of everything that is so magnificent about our Church. For them to have this experience and to have their eyes opened would only help the young people in the church grow in their faith."