Article submitted by Margaret Merrill, youth minister.
Challenge and Conquest in Oak Ridge, TN have been going strong for the past 3 ½ years as a youth ministry program that has really served as a bridge to bring the parish and school kids together. Margaret Merrill is the youth minister and has witnessed the program make an impact on their local parish, school and community throughout the years. With the help of 3 adult leaders for Conquest and 3 for Challenge, they train and empower the 28 teen team leaders who work direct and make the activities a success for the teams. The high school teen leaders are serving the middle school kids as team leaders.
Margaret shared how the team leaders have really made Challenge & Conquest successful, “I am constantly being asked if other high school boys or girls can become team leaders so we now have a new role for high schoolers called a “floater” who assists the team leaders or club leader or takes pictures. We find a way to get them involved in the middles school ministry. With the high school girls and boys leading Challenge they have found a new joy in their faith. It has given them a way to spread Jesus in very real and concrete terms. They feel wanted and valued by our parish and the youth they serve.”
Last year, the Challenge and Conquest teams did a number of service projects and activities to support the parish and community. One of the projects was “Roll for a Cure” and they raised $2000 for cancer. It was success and the teens were even featured on the local news. They held the event at a local roller rink. The Dominican sisters even joined in the fun! Parishioners and non parishioners alike participated for the cause. The Challenge and Conquest kids baked items and sold them to raise even more funds. They were totally in charge and made an impact. Another event that was a success was the Pure Fashion show they did in the parish and raised money for much needed items around the parish and school. The Challenge girls had a great time doing this project and proceeds went towards buying new altar serving gowns for the parish. Sometimes the projects are smaller but still make a huge impact. Margaret explained, “Last month the parish was filled with quotes of kindness which the teens taped all over the parish school church and youth building. We spread the joy to everyone who crossed their path and they are still up! Challenge and Conquest are a part of the parish and even ran a “treat parade” at the parish fall festival. They raised money for the parish just like the adults do!”
To kick off this school year the challenge and conquest youth along with their families and team leaders and had a kiddie pool kickball game to open the year off right! The challenge and Conquest group invited the local fire department to help keep the pools filled. The Conquest team leaders ran the kiddie pool game while the Challenge team leaders led crafts and face painting. Even the parish priests enjoyed the fun!