Confessions of a Youth Minister’s Son

Sean received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first-time this past Thursday as he prepares to receive his First Communion in May. It was fortuitous timing that Sean’s First Confession was the day before FREEDOM, the YMO’s annual youth reconciliation event.

So in the midst of my last-minute planning for FREEDOM, I sat Sean down on Thursday night to ask him about his experience and to pray with him in thanksgiving.

“So what did you confess?” I asked him.

“Dad, I’m not supposed to tell you!!!” was Sean’s quick reply.

“Very good son” I answered, actually covering up the fact that I forgot that I wasn’t supposed to ask him about what he confessed.

“But if you really want to know…” Sean continued. I smiled sheepishly, not sure if I should encourage him, discourage him, or run and hide.

“Just give me a summary then” I said.

“Well, I confessed all the names that I call Jacob. You know, names like dork, dummy-head, clown, goofball…”

I cut him off while trying to maintain a straight face. “Okay, Sean, that’s enough! I get the point!”

Turning to the task at hand, I decided to probe a bit further.

“Hey Sean: why do you think we’re calling our confession event FREEDOM?” I was curious as to how he’d answer.

“Because Jesus died on the cross to free us from our sins” Sean replied, “and in doing so our hearts are made anew.”

I offered up a prayer in thanksgiving: Sean’s answer confirmed that he did indeed understand the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Needless to say, I can’t wait until May!

Good thing he didn’t ask me about my confessions!

Top 10 Rejected Names for FREEDOM

One of the highlights of last night’s FREEDOM 10th Anniversary Event was when Father Mark and I presented the “Top 10 Rejected Names” for the event. All of the items were met wth laughter, cheers, jeers, groans, applause, or sometimes a combo of all 5!

Here is the Top 10 as presented at FREEDOM (big thanks to Mike for many of the ideas, Krissy for helping me order them, and Mark for providing the sweet drum roll and rim shots):

10. Somebody gonna get hurt a-real bad
9. March Badness
8. High School Confessional
7. Sin There, Done That
6. “Oh No,you dinnnnnnnt!”
5. So You Think You Can Sin?
4. The Biggest Loser
3. Come and Tell or Go to Hell
2. Amazing Disgrace
1. Go Ahead, Make My Day (said by Father Mark)

Honourable mentions include: Hell’s Kitchen, Can You Top This?, Learn Not to Burn, “You Did WHATTTTT?”, Confess your Mess and Shock the Priest

A Night to Remember…for all the wrong reasons

Sunday night was certainly a night to remember…or maybe a night to forget! It seemed like it would be a relatively normal night: I was going to a talk at a parish youth ministry night, and then ref the annual LIFE TEEN vs. Knights of Columbus basketball game at my home parish of St. Paul in Richmond.

I made my way to the Vancouver parish (that will remain anonymous…haha) and met the youth ministry coordinator and core team to set up and prepare for the night. I put a lunch bag into the fridge; it contained a sports bottle full of milk and an unopened bottle of Pepsi…I was going to use each of them in my talk. We locked up the kitchen (so I thought) and headed upstairs for Mass. So far so good.

Immediately after Mass, I went downstairs, booted up my computer, and booted to the fridge to retrieve the bag of goods. Immediately, I sensed that the bag felt too light. Much to my surprise, someone had taken the bottle of Pepsi! The youth ministers were embarassed and very apologetic for my missing prop. I assured them it was no big deal, and that I could re-work that part of my talk. I then remembered seeing a box of Pepsi in one of the storage rooms earlier in the day. I was able to retrieve a can and all was good in the hood.

It was certainly a first: I’ve never had one of my props stolen. Thankfully, it was a $2 bottle of Pepsi as opposed to a laptop, LCD projector, or my notes!

In hindsight…perhaps the perpetrator was just trying to help me keep my Lenten promise. I guess we’ll never know.

The night ended at 7:45pm, just enough time for me to bolt back to Richmond. As I drove quickly (yet safely) to St. Paul’s, I quickly (yet safely) texted Rich (the head organizer of the game) and Dave and Chris (techical producers) to tell them that I would arrive well ahead of my promised 8:15pm arrival time.

I’m not sure if 3 minutes counts as well-ahead…but I was able to furiously don my gym attire and charge into the gym just as the national anthem ended (literally 30 seconds before tip-off).

The game was exciting as usual, with the teens scoring with 13 seconds left to squeak out a dramatic 51-50 victory. Kim and I did our best to be fair, competent referees…and I think we succeeded. None of the Knights were waiting to jump us in the parking lot after the game.

In hindsight…maybe fair, but not-so-competent. In probably one of the most embarassing moments of my life (and that’s saying quite a lot!!!), I proceeded to trip over my own feet while making a 180 degree turn. I was sprinting down the court ahead of the developing fast-break when I tried to pivot to face the play. In the midst of what should have been a simple maneuver, my legs intertwined with each other (remember I was going at full speed) and I did a complete backward somersault, rolling head over heels into the end wall in plain view of close to 150 people in the gym.

The end result was ugly: I was lying on my stomach, heels pressed against the wall, my watch hanging from my wrist, and my self-esteem ripped to shreds. I looked to the right, and saw Gail, Jennifer, Pat and Krissy pointing and laughing. My lovely wife Gail claims she was laughing out of concern, but I didn’t have the time nor energy to press her on the issue.

As the 10 players ran in my direction, I tried my best to push myself up but I felt a sharp pain in my gluteus maximus. Thankfully, the play went the other way and I was able to eventually stand and start moving again. Needless to say, I was moving rather gingerly for a few minutes and today I still have a bruise on my left cheek (and I’m not talking about my face).

A stolen prop and a thunderous tumble. All in the name of youth ministry. That makes it all worth it.

I think.

Take ctrl

Lord, give me humility so I may not judge my worth by the number of friends I have on Facebook, or the number of times people comment on my blogs, photos, and videos. Stop me from replying to each comment individually just so I artificially boost the number of comments.

Help me see that it doesn’t matter how many followers I have on Twitter, and that it’s truly ok if the number of people I am following is greater than the number of people following me. Give me creativity so my tweets are actually interesting to read, and not just what I’m going to eat for lunch.

Grant me wisdom so that I won’t correlate my self-esteem to the number of views my videos have on Youtube. Help me realize that it’s ok to make a video that gets an average of 4 stars instead of 5. And help me differentiate the constructive comments from the destructive ones.

And lastly, whatever You do, please stop me if I ever decide to make my own website. I mean…come on…who has their own personal website?

Whoops…too late.


Did You Know That…(Crica 2000)

Here’s my version of those “25 facts about me” posts but with a twist: this is the actual list of facts that Gail and I prepared 9 years ago for our wedding reception on July 8, 2000.

Each fact corresponded to a table number…and once Gary or Dave (our awesome emcees) read “your” table fact, it was your turn to eat!

Hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane…some of it’s quite amusing even now.

Did you know that:

1. Gail does not know how to ride a bike
2. Gail has never had a nose bleed
3. Gail is blind without corrective lenses
4. Gail failed her driver’s test twice before finally passing
5. Gail first studied to become a dentist
6. Gail will teach grade 2 at St. Paul’s in September
7. Gail was born in Cebu, Philippines
8. Gail thought pug dogs were ugly before Clay gave her Shaila
9. Gail is the Godmother to 3 kids (Daniel, Antonio, and Emily)
10. Gail owns over 60 pairs of shoes (in comparison, Clay has 4 only 4 pairs)
11. Clay got one hour of sleep last night
12. Clay gets his hair cut every 2 and a half weeks
13. Clay is terrified of spiders and gets Gail to kill them for him
14. Clay has appeared on Much Music
15. Clay is a Youth Minister working with the LIFE TEEN program at St. Paul’s
16. Clay learned how to play the drums on his own 3 years ago
17. Clay used to shave words into the back of his head
18. Clay can’t blow bubbles in bubblegum or whistle
19. Clay wore diapers to Kindergarten
20. Clay suffered a compressed back and sprained foot in the last 3 weeks before the wedding
21. Clay and Gail have been seeing each other since December 14, 1989 (over 10 years)
22. Clay and Gail kept a daily dairy together for their first 7 years together
23. Clay and Gail met through a school musical, “Lumberjacks and Weddingbelles” where they were paired as husband and wife
24. Clay and Gail have gone to 3 of the same schools: Burnett, Richmond High, and UBC
25. Clay and Gail got engaged at LIFE TEEN on February 28, 1999
26. The first time Gail was over at Clay’s she got in trouble for staying too late and was not allowed to go over for a year
27. Clay gave Gail chocolates for their one month anniversary, not knowing Gail doesn’t eat them
28. Gail and her family introduced Clay to the Catholic Church in 1992
29. Clay and Gail’s favourite hobby is falling asleep with Shaila in front of the TV