Tony Rossi, Director of Communications
Katie Prejean McGrady grew up attending daily Mass with her sister and parents, and participating in her church’s youth group. That involvement led her to embrace her faith more deeply as she got older. She became a high school teacher for five years, as well as an in-demand speaker, podcast host, and author. Now she is guiding young people toward a deeper relationship with God by helping them have a spiritually fruitful Lent instead of just enduring a season of reluctant obligation.
Katie and her husband Tommy co-wrote a short book of reflections called “Lent: One Day at a Time for Catholic Teens.” During a “Christopher Closeup” interview, she told me, “Young people just see Lent as a checklist: no candy, no soda, maybe no Netflix, if they’re super spiritual…But how can we get them to pray to the Lord, to actually think about…ways that they can more deeply invest in their personal, spiritual journey?”
The book’s entries consist of a daily reflection, challenge, and prayer that would take no more than five minutes – and allow the reader to apply the Lenten insights learned directly to his or her life. They can be practiced alone, in a small group, or with parents. Katie hopes that the spiritual journey that teens begin during Lent continues afterward. She said, “My hope is that a young person says, ‘I like reading the Bible now. I like actually talking to Jesus first thing in the morning.’ There’s a few challenges in there about helping out around the house, making everybody’s bed, doing the dishes for your mom, or sitting down with your sibling and…playing a board game with them. Hopefully those things would continue.”
Katie also holds a bigger view of evangelization, noting, “In the grand scheme of things, we set these lofty goals for churches and youth ministry and conferences. And I hope those continue because that’s how I pay my bills. But I also want people to recognize that loving the people right in front of you…that oftentimes is the most important witness you’ll ever give.”
In fact, it was Katie’s joy in practicing her faith as a child that led her grandmother to convert to Catholicism. Katie recalled that her grandmother, who suffered with dementia for several years, died this past June. Her grandfather gave Katie her grandmother’s Bible, which was well-worn and filled with notes.
“As I start to look at them,” Katie said, “I realized that they were notes about all of us: her grandkids, my grandfather, her children. She had dementia, so she had begun forgetting things. She realized it, so she started writing things down so that she could go back and read them. And I mean, beautiful things about all of us. How much she loved us and what she’d noticed about us, just the most affirming things…So this little note [read], ‘I love my Catholic faith because of my two granddaughters, Katie and Laura.’”
Katie continued, “It was such a touching reminder that oftentimes when we evangelize, we have this perspective of: I have this information as the adult or the teacher or the catechist, and I’m going to give it to this young person, and they’re going to be grateful that I gave it to them. [But] a lot of times it happens in a very organic, sometimes reverse kind of way, where it’s kids who love Jesus, and their love of Jesus inspires somebody else to want to know a little bit more about Him.”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note DISCERNING GOD’S STILL SMALL VOICE, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org