Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Founder of Life Teen Excommunicated

The founder of Life Teen, a youth "movement" within the Church, Fr. Dale Fushek was excommunicated. This may seem like old news to many of us, but as is the existence of my life I'm hearing this for the first time. This arouses in my mind many of the objections I have to the Life Teen program.

My Experiences As A Participant

During my high school years I attended a Life Teen group at a local parish. At the time I was more or less agnostic and mostly attended for the free food they offered after Mass. The Mass itself I must admit was not attractive to me at all. I was agnostic and even then thought it was ridiculous that at a sacred event, such as Holy Mass, there was rock style music played.

It was only thanks to another participant in the group befriending me that I regained my faith and began to grow in faith. Believe it or not the topics at the youth group were presented with such watered down quality that I found that the only reason I was there was to make friends.

My Experiences As A "Core Team" Member

After graduating from high school I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life so while attending the local junior college I assisted with the Life Teen program at the same parish as a member of the "core team." I was still growing in my faith and every now and then was granted the opportunity to share my faith with the teens.

Then came the day I attended Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I as a Roman Catholic saw no harm in what I was doing. I attended a Mass that was not only valid but was in Latin (well, except for the Homily) and not only did I attend but I thoroughly enjoyed it! My fellow "core team" members were not thrilled and banned me from speaking at "Life Nites." At the time I was scheduled to talk about the Mass and it was conveyed that my new found interest in the tradional Mass was a threat to the teens faith. After a while I had to resign my position on the "core team" because of the constant harrassment I was receiving regarding my occasional visit to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I was also labeled as a "traditionalist" and a possible threat to the teens.

The straw the ultimately broke the camel's back was when I was told in these words: "We shouldn't teach [the teens] about all this reverence and devotion because they won't get it. That and it's not that important."

In regards to Fr. Dale Fushek we must all pray for his soul. It is a shame that Life Teen as it exists does not cultivate any long lasting spiritual formation but only satisfies the emotions and passions and leaves the teens faith lives virtually empty and dry. However terrible it is I must say that the program is salvagable and we must pray for all who are involved and I think we ought to be especially cautious of it.

Related article: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=55749

2 comments:

Kevin A. said...

I suppose the question that needs to be asked is whether or not your experience was indicative of the situation of the whole of LifeTeen. I have heard that in other areas it is a lot better than it was for you, and in fact in Peoria it is now much better with our mutual friend Micah in charge. I also know that Chris, a fellow contributor to this blog, led it for a while, and I do not doubt his commitment to proclaiming orthodoxy. Just going from the stories that I've heard, it seems that for a time in Peoria the inmates were running the asylum, so to speak. That does not necessarily make that the case everywhere.

Although I will add that even though I am now helping with LifeTeen, I go to Mass elsewhere as I agree with you that the music is cringeworthy at best and grossly inappropriate for Holy Mass.

kwilkins said...

Well, mostly my experiences scandalized me significantly and even equal to how scandalized I am in regards to the Peoria TEC program.

And indeed you are right. My experiences with St. Thomas Lifeteen do not reflect the overall integrity of the program, however it must be noted that there are a LOT of similar cases from Lifeteen programs all over the nation.

Mostly, I was looked down upon and despised for everything that I was and that is the greatest scandal.