From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Two youth ministers bring TEC retreat program back into Spokane Diocese

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the May 24, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

How young people experience Christ, especially as teens, can often shape their relationship with him as adults. A number of programs have been designed for that particular age group to help them grow into faith-filled Christian adults.

One of those programs, which was used in the Spokane Diocese during the mid-1980s, is called Teens Encounter Christ or, as it is commonly known, TEC. Youth ministers Dan Glatt and Deacon Kelly Stewart experienced TEC not long ago, at the suggestion of Father Jim Kuhns, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Spokane, who had been a chaplain for the earlier TEC weekends.

The two men were deeply impressed by their experience, and realized its potential for benefiting teenagers. Because of that they are making plans for the program’s return. They are looking for help, however, and are hoping that among their recruits will be former TEC retreatants and volunteers.

Glatt and Deacon Stewart explained the program’s design, which was revised recently by the national TEC organization.

TEC is a weekend retreat experience aimed at older teens – from high school juniors through sophomores in college.

The retreat begins with “the first day,” which is themed around the death of Jesus; continues through “the second day,” which celebrates Jesus’s resurrection; and ends with “the third day,” which is Pentecost or “the going forth.”

Both men liked how the program was designed. “There’s a really strong flow from one element to the next,” Deacon Stewart said.

Said Glatt, “There are no gaps as retreat leaders decide what to do next.” People behind the scenes are “doing the preparation stuff, getting ready for the next activity.”

There is also an element of involvement for the retreatants. “People on a TEC don’t just sit there, waiting to be filled,” Glatt explained. They have activities to do during the weekend, he said, which leads to personalization of their retreat, making the experience unique.

Catechesis is a strong component of the weekend, especially “for kids outside the Catholic Church or kids who don’t have good catechesis at home,” Glatt said.

The program can help teens realize “that God is more than a bright light which makes us feel good, that there is suffering and pain,” Deacon Stewart said.

Glatt agreed. He said that while “we enter into a personal communion with God, to learn who and what we are, we also learn how to put that into works.”

Glatt and Stewart traveled to the national TEC headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, to take part in a retreat training weekend. TEC officials sent them home “to come down from our high,” said Glatt, asking them to reflect on their experience before making any decisions about going further.

There was no question in either man’s mind about what to do next. They both wanted to bring TEC to teens in the diocese, and the first step was a letter from Bishop William Skylstad. He checked with other bishops about TEC and received good recommendations. Deacon Stewart and Glatt also obtained a letter from the Diocesan Youth Office, stating support for the program.

Glatt and Deacon Stewart are calling the program Spokane TEC. They emphasized they didn’t want to compete with other teen programs. “This is just one more avenue to reach kids,” Glatt said.

They hope to have people recruited and plans in place for a TEC retreat in November. The program strives for about two dozen participants. Another 20 people are needed to put on the weekend experience, Deacon Steward said. Being support personnel does not require previous experience of TEC, either.

“This is the first TEC center in the West,” Glatt said. “Great Falls and Denver are checking into it (the program), but they’re the closest. But there is great potential for other cities, such as Yakima, Boise, or Baker.”

The two youth ministers, who together have nearly 30 years of youth ministry experience, agreed they “see a lot of hope in kids. They’re filled with questions. They just don’t want to be told; they want to know why.”

For the two youth ministers, TEC could be a way to help young people learn the why.

(For more information about TEC, or to volunteer to help with the program, call either Deacon Kelly Stewart at Assumption Parish, Spokane, 326-0541, or Dan Glatt at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Spokane: 747-7213.)

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