December 22, 2016

Last summer more than 3,000 people joined us for Camp Catholic, a virtual summer camp for all ages. One of our digital campers was Sara Rooney of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California.  As 2016 comes to a close, Sara reflects on what she’s learned about her faith this year.  

With the end of the year approaching, my mind is starting to look back and take stock. I'm not one to do resolutions (ever) but this year I tried something new: I chose a word to guide/inspire me in 2016. That word was LEARN.

Kind of a nice idea, yes? So open... so wise... so mature. What a good word for me to pick! Yet as I look back on my year, it makes far more sense to say that God gave me this word, and He used it to prime me to accept and seek out new learning opportunities... opportunities that (of course) He had already picked out and planned for me. I can only imagine him in heaven chuckling, "So that's how she wants to approach 2016? With a "word"? Hmmm, let's give her a good one then, shall we?"

Man plans and God laughs.*

But it has been a good year, full of learning. One of the best examples was participating in Camp Catholic this summer - an online "summer camp" with a great tag line: "Don't let your faith life take a summer vacation!" I wish I could remember now how I stumbled across it. I probably saw it on Instagram, or maybe on Facebook... regardless, I remember being especially drawn to it because so many of my friends were posting pictures of how they were taking awesome vacations, or doing really fun activities with their families and, well, we didn't have any fun trips or special activities on the docket. (It's a natural consequence of getting ready to knock down your dilapidated detached garage to build something a bit more... *ahem* water-tight.) So yes, that means I was comparing and probably a little jealous. Good thing going to confession was one of the activities planned for Camp Catholic!

When I considered whether we should join, I was reminded of my "word". Since the whole spirit of the Camp was to deepen our faith in Jesus and increase our understanding of the Catholic church, it seemed silly to pass it up - so, we joined:

During the 2nd week of Camp we learned about the liturgical calendar: about the seasons (Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Eastertide, Ordinary Time) and the colors associated with the different seasons of the church year. Camp Catholic created a neat infographic about it and we still keep it up on our refrigerator. I also learned that we are woefully short of green-colored clothing.

We had our first "field trip" for a feast day - celebrating St Junipero Serra's day on July 1st. Cline Cellars, a winery in Sonoma, has a small museum with reproductions of all the California missions, and a rather creepy looking mannequin of Fr. Serra too.

I think it's the slightly cross-eyed expression that unnerves me.

We had lunch on their grounds, rang a bell that used to hang in one of the missions, and bought a bottle of wine to commemorate the event (because winery. Can't pass it up!)

Keeping my phone at the ready to snap pictures for Camp actually helped me grab some fun shots too...

On left: my daily reminder to turn to God (week 3),

Top right: my neighbors (week 6); Bottom right: favorite saint (week 5)

Like I mentioned, every week they provided really useful infographics on topics ranging from "What is that thing up on the Altar?" to "Sisters vs. Nuns" (Hint: it's not the newest MMORPG) and "Everyday Catholic Devotions" And while I would really like to say that all of these were for teaching the children... well, we already said my word for the year was LEARN, didn't we?

But these are exactly the topics that I wish I had known more about when I was younger, so I really hope that when the wee ones get to be not-so-wee Camp Catholic is still around to do with them. Because regardless of whatever "word" they can come up with to guide their years, I'm sure this kind of education can always be worked in somehow.

Did you have a word for this year? Or will you be choosing a word for 2017?

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