RYAN: Hello, my name is Ryan Serfas. I hail from the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. I go to Marquette University studying mechanical engineering and it is a pleasure to be in your presence, Br. William.
INTERN: Fun fact, he beat boxes.
BR. WILLIAM: What?
RYAN: I do, I beat box.
BR. WILLIAM: Oh ok, do it.
BEAT BOXING and LAUGHTER.
BR. JOEL: This is "Echoes from the Bell Tower," stories of wit and wisdom from Benedictine monks who live, work and pray in southern Indiana. We're your hosts, Br. Joel Blaize.
BR. KOLBE: And I'm Br. Kolbe Wolniakowski. When spring semester ends in the Seminary and School of Theology, students pack up and move off the Hill. It's quiet around here, but that does not last long.
BR. JOEL: Yeah, only for a couple of weeks. Hundreds of high school youth come to Saint Meinrad each summer for the "One Bread, One Cup" Liturgical Leadership Conferences, and the monks love it!
BR. KOLBE: Because who would not love to have hundreds of teenagers invade their home? But for real, the monks see the "One Bread, One Cup" program kind of as our baby.
FR. CHRISTIAN: I think to some extent that's true. I think the monks really love the program.
BR. JOEL: This is Fr. Christian. He has been working with "One Bread, One Cup," or OBOC, on and off for 10 years. He currently serves as the college internship director.
FR. CHRISTIAN: And are protective of the program, and want to see the program flourish and grow. I guess that's how you would treat a baby. Yeah, I think the monks just care a lot about "One Bread, One Cup."
BR. KOLBE: Through OBOC, the monks can see the young Church and it gives us a lot of hope and joy for the present and future of the Catholic Church.
BR. JOEL: We are also able to empower the youth and give them tools, and a little Benedictine spirituality, to take back to their home parishes.
BR. KOLBE: We should probably back up. At this point, you're probably wondering what "One Bread, One Cup" is. Here's Olivia Snyder. She is in her third summer serving as an OBOC intern.
OLIVIA SNYDER: To someone that's never heard of it, I would say that "One Bread, One Cup" is a summer liturgical leadership conference for youth. Meaning that high school youth from all over the country come to learn about their space in the Church, and how to enact different liturgical roles within the Mass and beyond.
High school youth come, learn about their faith, learn about the liturgy, build community with one another. And then, are sent forth to bring the presence of Christ to the rest of the world. It's really about as simple as it gets.
BR. JOEL: At the very basic level, OBOC is a five-day conference for high school youth and the adult leaders in their parishes. This summer, we have three conferences at Saint Meinrad and one at Conception Abbey in Missouri.
BR. KOLBE: OBOC is focused on the liturgy and giving youth the tools to be active participants and leaders in their parish. Here's Tammy Becht. She is the director of "One Bread, One Cup."
TAMMY BECHT: I would say that "One Bread, One Cup" is an authentic encounter with Christ through the experience of the liturgy. We enable young people to take the time out of their lives to be quiet and to listen, to experience God through the liturgy in a way that they maybe never have before.
BR. JOEL: There are 10 tracks, or liturgical roles, the youth can choose to learn about during the conference.
TAMMY: I feel like "One Bread, One Cup" enables young people to learn a skill that's definitely needed in the Church, either leading prayer or being an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, or being a lector learning how to proclaim the Word well, learning how to preside at Liturgy of the Hours, learning how to serve, learning how to be an emcee or a sacristan. All of those are necessary roles, if you will, that must be fulfilled for each and every Mass.
BR. KOLBE: Every afternoon, the youth break into their small groups to learn one of those liturgical roles. Then, at daily Mass they practice those roles.
TAMMY: I feel like "One Bread, One Cup" enables young people to perform those skills with confidence, gives them room to make mistakes, offers them a safe environment where they can make mistakes, or they can shine brightly, and they'll be affirmed. Whether they make a mistake or not, they're going to be affirmed in what they've done. Then they're also going to be given a little bit of feedback to help them learn in even greater or deeper way to share their skill the next time. I feel like enabling young people and then empowering them to serve is the greatest thing that we do at "One Bread, One Cup."
BR. JOEL: OBOC would not exist without the help of the college interns. Every summer, 21 college students from around the country are hired for a six- to eight-week internship. Their primary purpose is to staff and serve the youth conferences.
BR. KOLBE: The interns serve as group leaders and teachers. They keep the conferences running smoothly while sharpening real-world job skills. They also serve as role models for the youth. Here's Fr. Christian.
FR. CHRISTIAN: They're a witness that, once you go to college, it does not mean that your time in the Church is or ought to be over and doesn't mean that your faith should be left behind, or your practice as a Christian should be left behind. Our college students are witnessing that faith is something that continues into the next stage, in the next step.
BR. JOEL: One of the unique parts of OBOC is that it's held at a Benedictine monastery.
FR. ERIC AUGENSTEIN: And by being held at a Benedictine monastery, we're able to utilize the rich traditions of Benedictine liturgy and the Benedictine community in order to introduce people to the liturgy. Not just the Mass, but also the Liturgy of the Hours.
BR. KOLBE: This is Fr. Eric Augenstein. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and serves as director of liturgy at "One Bread, One Cup."
BR. JOEL: At OBOC, the youth are introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily prayer of the Church that Saint Meinrad monks follow. The youth are taught how to lead and preside at the Liturgy of the Hours and they often take that back to their parishes as a new offering.
BR. KOLBE: The youth also get to know the monks during the conferences. Some monks teach the formation sessions and each conference has an ice cream social where the youth can ask monks questions.
FR. ERIC: A lot of the young people who come here to "One Bread, One Cup" have never seen a monk before, let alone met one or spent some time hanging out with a monk. So the opportunity to engage with a monastic community is a unique component to this program and to help people in our parishes, young people in the Church, know what the Benedictine way of life is all about and to be exposed to monastic life. And also to make a connection between Benedictine spirituality and the lives of young people that they live in their regular high school days.
TAMMY: Then I think the encounter with the monastic community is also something that's quite mysterious, especially for young people. They don't know what monks are in the first place, and then when they meet some of the monks who live here, they quickly come to appreciate and understand their way of life and really have a mysterious curiosity about the monks and how they live their lives and how they come away from the world, if you will, and live in this place and take vows and live in community, but then how they still are engaged with the world is a surprise, I think, for a lot of people.
BR. JOEL: The conference schedule also follows the Benedictine way of life. There is a really good balance of prayer and work, and fun. Here is Tammy and Olivia again.
TAMMY: The scene on the first day of the conference can be a little hectic.
OLIVIA: It's a day filled with a lot of energy. So, the interns are just ready to put on the conference again. They're ready to welcome the new youth and form relationships with them. So, there's really like a buzz and an energy in the air as the participants come in and check in and register for the conference.
LUKE: It's a big whirlwind of an experience because you almost ... You think of day one, whenever they're coming. Then it's pretty well nonstop until everybody leaves on day five. It's little sleep, a lot of movement, a lot of interacting with people.
BR. KOLBE: That last voice is Luke Messmer. He was a youth participant when he was in high school and then served as an intern for three summers.
LUKE: I think something that always strikes me on the first day when the participants are arriving is I've realized through putting on the conferences, that there's not really the standard youth group kid that comes. Like, anybody can come here. It's severely awkward at first. People are like, "Oh, hi. I'm wearing the same t-shirt as you."
BR. JOEL: The conference begins with icebreakers and community-building games. So, participants arrive and check in.
BR. KOLBE: Once they're settled, they all meet up and begin to learn a little bit about each other.
BR. JOEL: Then there's day one Mass where the youth and adult participants are introduced to the Mass at Saint Meinrad.
TAMMY: The very first day, really day and a half, I guess, of the conference, the interns lead the prayer and they lead the Mass, because as soon as young people get here, they're not ready to do that right off the bat.
Having the example set by the interns to get us started, it does offer a mentorship, if you will. The high school youth see how it's to be done if they're paying attention. They then are asked on day two to step forward and to begin to lead themselves.
BR. KOLBE: On the first night of the conference, all of the participants gather and learn about building a community of faith.
OLIVIA: The first night is always a lot of fun because our first large group catechesis is building a community of faith. It's the first time that specific group of people has ever come together before, and there's a lot of energy in the room as the participants kind of start to let down their walls and start to engage with the interns.
Everybody is just really excited and happy to be there, even the participants that may not have chosen to come. Maybe it was strongly recommended that they come by their parents. You can really feel that they're loosening up and getting to know the community more. And getting excited about what the week is going to bring.
BR. JOEL: The days that follow include large group gatherings in the morning, small group gathering in the afternoon, with prayer and Mass in between. There is time set aside in the evenings for the youth to relax and have some fun.
BR. KOLBE: There is an Ultimate Frisbee game between the interns and the youth, a talent show, the ice cream social with the monks and the crazy hat dance. During last year's conference, Br. William gathered some audio for us at the social and crazy hat dance.
BR. JOEL: The day winds down with everyone praying Compline or evening prayer together. Here is Fr. Eric.
FR. ERIC: We gather in the seminary chapel, the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel, usually about 10:15 in the evening and we have a chapel full of young people who are chanting the Psalms and then processing to the statue of Our Lady of Einsiedeln to chant the Salve Regina.
Every time we pray Compline, it reminds me of what the Church can be at its best and the gift and blessing that the young Church is and that there's a real hunger for authentic encounter with Jesus Christ and that in a place like Saint Meinrad, you can have that, but then also, you can take that back with you to wherever you go into your parishes, your schools, your families, your communities.
That Compline every night is an experience that I think a lot of people would think you wouldn't have. Seeing a chapel of 100 young people chanting night prayer at a Benedictine monastery seems like it wouldn't happen these days, but it does and it's beautiful.
BR. KOLBE: On the third evening of the conference, the youth and adults attend a penance service in the Archabbey Church. This is often the highlight of the conference for the youth, a part that they never forget.
BR. JOEL: Everything comes together at the end of the week with the day five Mass.
OLIVIA: I've heard a lot of people that have been involved in the program over the years, whether they were a youth participant, or an intern, or just came and visited. Day five Mass is something that you can't help but smile when you talk about. Pretty much everyone that I've talked to that's talked about day five Mass has just lit up as soon as they say that.
BR. KOLBE: Like we said earlier, at the beginning of the conference, the interns take over the Mass and fill the liturgical roles. As the conference moves on, the youth gradually take over.
OLIVIA: Day five is when you just see the confidence that all of the participants have. They're just so ready to take ownership of their section of the Church and be strong leaders in their faith. So, day five Mass is one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced. It's just really cool to see the confidence that comes out of these young people as they really make the liturgy their own.
BR. JOEL: The youth can take what they learn at "One Bread, One Cup" and make a difference in their parishes. During the conference last summer, we talked to Patty Bailey. She's a youth minister at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Illinois. She's been bringing youth to OBOC for over 15 years and she says OBOC has transformed the parish.
BR. KOLBE: They have a liturgy planning team with 40 high school members, 10 from each grade. Once a month, the parish holds a youth lead liturgy. Here's Patty.
PATTY BAILEY: Because it's once a month, people will show up an hour early for Mass just to get a seat. The music is beautiful, and the homiletics group has come up with a way to bring the Word alive to the parish. We do that through testimonies and maybe little skits for Mass, whatever they come up with. We actually modeled it after everything we've learned here at "One Bread, One Cup," so our whole parish is enjoying the benefits of this conference.
BR. JOEL: Patty's mission is to raise leaders in the Church and to make sure the youth know that they matter and that they are loved.
PATTY: How this conference helps that is so evident and we are helping the participants that are here rise up to leadership in our Church, but more importantly in their future parishes, as they grow up to be adult members of a church. You know, just feeling that they matter, and they're special, and they're loved, that's the Benedictine hospitality right there, and it oozes out of every single aspect of this conference.
OLIVIA: A phrase that the director Tammy likes to use a lot is, "You are not the Church of tomorrow; you are the young Church of today." I really see the empowerment that these young people get when they come here, to know that they're not just waiting their turn to be a part of the Church, or a part of the Body of Christ, that they are that now. They each have an individual space that they can fill, right now.
I see them growing as human people in their spirituality while they're here. But I also see them recognizing kind of what's already there. And that they're important in the life of the Church, and that they do have roles that they can fulfill now. They don't have to wait until they're in college or married, or serving a religious vocation to be an important part of the Church, that they already are that. That we already value them.
BR. JOEL: The theme for the rest of our podcast season is about Saint Meinrad's impact beyond the Hill, out in the world. "One Bread, One Cup" is a program that can really make a difference in the lives of young people and the parishes they serve. Here's Fr. Eric.
FR. ERIC: Saint Meinrad over the years had held such an important place in the life of the Church for the priests who are formed here, the deacons, the lay ministers, of course for the monastic community and all those who encountered them. And being able to pass that on to the young Church is a way of spreading the gift of Saint Meinrad, Benedictine hospitality, the charism of work and prayer to people from all around the United States and beyond.
So Saint Meinrad has a place in the people who come here is not just limited to a hill in southern Indiana. I think "One Bread, One Cup" is one of the programs that helps Saint Meinrad reach far beyond this hill to the Church all around the world.
BR. JOEL: Thank you for listening to our episode today about the "One Bread, One Cup" program. Want to learn more? Check out their website at saintmeinrad.edu/oboc.
BR. KOLBE: This episode was edited and produced by Krista Hall, with the help of Br. Joel Blaize, Br. Kolbe Wolniakowski, Br. William Sprauer, Mary Jeanne Schumacher, Jim Paquette, Tammy Schuetter and Christian Mocek. The music for this podcast was written and produced by Br. Joel.
BR. JOEL: A special thanks goes to Tammy Becht, Fr. Christian Raab, Fr. Eric Augenstein, Olivia Snyder, Luke Messmer, Patty Bailey, Amber Grooms and Philip Spearing.
BR. KOLBE: We have several episodes planned for the fall all about Saint Meinrad's impact out in the world. If you have enjoyed "Echoes from the Bell Tower," tell your friends and subscribe to it on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
BR. JOEL: And if you want to listen to past episodes or learn more about our podcast, visit saintmeinrad.edu/echoes. Have a great summer!
BR. JOEL: Everything comes together at the end of the week with a five-day - whoops! A five-day-long Mass!
BR. KOLBE: You'd think that'd be the part they never forget. "Remember that time we were in church for five days?" "No, I remember the penance service, though."