During my childhood, I often found it strange to celebrate “New Year’s” in January, when everything in my life revolved around September 1st. For a kid, the start of the school year seems to act as a hinge upon which so much of life revolves – not only the grade you start, but also most of the activities you do: sports, clubs, music lessons, and so on. I always thought that once I grew up, this would change.
Because of my work in youth ministry, it never has. The beginning of September still marks the start of all sorts of things, and this year it’s going to mean more than most.
The biggest change starts with the fact that the Landry family is growing by one more person this year: my wife and I are expecting Landry kidlet #5 sometime in early February. There is definitely some excitement in our household as we ‘prepare the way’ for this new little person we will soon get to meet. Our growing family has led us to spend a great deal of time discerning some of the practical implications, not the least of which is the fact that our house will be bursting at the seams come spring. The long and short of it is that this weekend, we’ll be putting our house up for sale, and beginning to look in earnest for one that’s a little bigger.
From my ministry perspective, there have been developments on both my work as Chaplain in Evergreen Catholic Schools and in my work as a lay missionary elsewhere – some very exciting and some I approach with a healthy sense of fear.
Heading into my fourth year as Chaplain at Evergreen, I’ve been leveled a few challenges that I’m itching to tackle. At St. Peter the Apostle CHS, where I spend half of my time, I have one simple goal this year: I want to find a way to connect with every student. Whether it’s helping fill out a late slip, serving them a cup of coffee, helping them reflect on some of life’s big questions… and many other ways I haven’t yet thought of. I’m still going to be working on liturgies, prayers, and helping answer questions on our Catholic faith – all of which take place during the ordinary school day – but my focus is going to be on building connections outside of the classroom.
In the schools outside of St. Peter, I’ve been asked to have a particular focus on leadership development. To help accommodate this, I’ll be spending most of my time with students grade 7-12 (in the past it’s been students grade 5-12). I’ll be looking to engage students in high school to serve their junior high counterparts, and junior high students to help me create something for their grade 4-6 counterparts. It’s a big initiative, and one that I’m very excited about.
And finally, there’s the Third Place Project. The project emcompasses both my work as a lay missionary in other churches and schools, as well as a group of people I’m very blessed to call friends. For a number of years I’ve been speaking, hosting retreats, leading music, writing blog posts, and more recently, making videos. And over the past year two things have become very clear about this ministry as a lay missionary in the Church: first of all, it’s something that I’m being called to do, and second, it’s not something I want to be working on alone. So, after some prayer, I’ve reached out and brought around me a number of people whom I’ve had the privilege of serving with in the past – with Anaphora, in my parish youth ministry, and in other settings – and they are going to make up the “core” of this initiative. What does that mean? Well, whenever I speak in another place, they’ll be praying for me. But more than that… together we’ve got countless years of ministry experience, but our state in life has made it a challenge to be core members for a youth group or to commit to a regular event like an XLT as we have in the past. We are excited to see where God is going to lead us.
So, if you’ve taken the time to read this entire post: thank you. Please pray for my family, for the students in my schools, and for whatever the Third Place Project grows into. There’s a whole lot of unknown in the new things I’m going to be trying this year – but I am doing my best to trust God to guide all of it.
“And the one who was seated on the throne said: ‘See, I am making all things new.'” -Revelation 21:5