At one point late Friday/early Saturday (time started to blend together after a while), the other chaperones and I had a wonderful and frightening thought at the same time: This is the high point of our career with youth ministry kids; we will never have a group of 10 teens like this again.
What do I mean by this? Well, best described by an example:
Wednesday night, half way through the journey, hot, tired, sore. We had gone through Dayton that day, see the post below for specifics, and were ending up at St. Charles Borromeo, Kettering for dinner and sleep. As I developed the habit since I couldn't walk, I would meet them outside, toss water bottles, bring them in to wherever we were meeting/eating/praying/whatever.
As they approached at about 8 pm, and we started at 6 am that day, I met them on the sidewalk: 'Great to see you guys, dinner's ready, come on in.' I started to walk to the room where we were eating, which passed by the Eucharistic Chapel. I got to the meeting room, turned around and felt like a failed dad: no one was behind me.
They all stopped in the Chapel to pray. "Of course they did, that's what these kids do!"
Boy, didn't I feel like an idiot going into the chapel as the preist to say the following: 'Guys, I know you want to pray, and as a priest, I love that you love to pray, but they are waiting on you to eat, so you have to stop praying now. Relax, we do have a Holy Hour later.'
They lifted each other up, carried burdens for each other, encouraged each other, stayed back on the bus so that no one would be alone, sang, prayed, chanted, translated Latin, discussed theology: 'What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of Man?' among so much else as we walked, slowly, from Maria Stein to the Cathedral.
It was absolutely awesome. Of the 10 young people, they are all seriously considering a call to priesthood and/or religious life. I could easily see 8 of them enter formation, if not all ten. There will never be another group like them, that's for sure.
It gives great hope for what this group, as well as their peers, will do into the future.