One of the blessings we have enjoyed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for a number of years is the ministry of the REAP Team for our young people. Paul Masek and his team translate the Gospel into a language that is not only understandable but also engaging for our youth. They literally become the word.
Paul has given numerous days of recollection and prayer, parish renewals, missions, retreats as well as other services that have been very helpful for the spiritual formation of our youth. I have been present on many occasions to hear their presentation and have read evaluations that always speak highly of the effectiveness of their ministry.
The REAP Team has my wholehearted approval. May they continue to proclaim the Good News for the glory of God.
—Most Reverend Paul A Zipfel, Bishop of Bismarck, ND (former bishop of St. Louis, MO)
To those ministering to the spiritual formation of children and youth: It is indeed a privilege to write this letter of endorsement for the REAP Team under the direction of Mr. Paul Masek. The REAP Team has certainly been a blessed and gifted resource for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis in reaching out to provide spiritual formation to our children and youth. The REAP Team is a remarkable group of committed adults and youth who devote their time and energy to furthering youth retreat ministry. They are loyal ambassadors of Christ and the Church with marvelous ability and skill to reach into the complex world of the young. I highly recommend the REAP team for your high school retreats, children's days of prayer, a retreat experience for those preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation, to mention only a few ways that they could be helpful to you in the spiritual formation of your children and youth. If you are searching for an effective, inspirational, and appealing retreat experience for children and youth, you will want to contact Mr. Paul Masek, the Coordinator of this unique group.
—Msgr. John M. Unger, Catholic Education Office, Archdiocese of St. Louis
Over the years, the REAP Team has done a wonderful job of building a reputation of providing quality retreats for young people. Their popularity has gotten so great that they have had to turn some groups away. The young people of our archdiocese are truly fortunate that we have the REAP Team. One reason why REAP is so successful is the team members realize that God's in charge. They approach their retreats as a ministry, rather than a business.
The REAP Team has literally touched the lives of thousands of young people. For some of these people, the change is tremendous. One of the best testimonies of the power of the REAP Team is to see young people on the Team who were evangelized by a REAP retreat when they were younger. True youth ministry replicates itself. REAP is living proof of this.
Some young people expect to be preached at all day. They're surprised when they realize they won't be sitting through long, boring lectures. REAP presents the message through two powerful ways: dramas and witnessing. The striking images of a powerful drama can stay with someone for a lifetime. The personal testimony of someone who has been there can be more influential than any lecture. All of a sudden, light bulbs go off and the young people realize you can be cool and religious at the same time.
I think most young people are surprised when they have so much fun on a REAP day of recollection. They expect to be bored, and are excited when they realize they're having fun while hearing about God. I've never heard of a young person falling asleep at a REAP retreat. I'd like to say that the REAP Team is totally radical, extreme, and way-cool. But I don't normally talk that way.
REAP is the best tool for youth evangelization in our archdiocese. We truly are fortunate to have REAP's ministry in our parishes and schools.
—Greg Rohde, former Coordinator of the Catholic Youth Council's Office of Youth Ministry, current director of Office of Young Adult Ministry, Archdiocese of St. Louis
Paul M. has asked us to share some of the experiences that St. Kevin School has had with the REAP Team over the past several years. We have had Paul and members of his team in for junior high retreats, Confirmation retreats, eighth grade days of prayer, leadership building sessions with the junior high, Confirmation preparation with parents, sponsors and students, Communion preparation with parents and students, and for working with specific problems with the older grades. In all cases they were excellent!
One of the most important aspects of Paul's ministry is that he and the team share faith experiences so honestly that they touch the hearts and souls of everyone involved. We have no way to explain the power of their work, but we have had seventh and eighth grade students plead to have the REAP Team back and we have had parents tell us that the students were still talking about their new faith insights weeks after the retreats. Parents and other adults involved have been moved by the work of Paul and the REAP Team and have thanked us for the opportunity to participate in the evenings. Teachers have told us over and over how excellent the REAP Team is for the junior high students and for themselves. And as pastor and principal we have been moved by the truth of their presentations and the relevance they have in our lives.
We have not found any faith presentation to be as effective as that of the REAP Team for students. We suggest that you try them once for yourself, you will be pleased.
—Fr. John Leykam, Pastor of St. Kevin Parish in St. Ann, MO and Margaret Fortner, Principal of St. Kevin School in St. Ann, MO
I have had the privilege of working with the REAP (Retreat Evangelization And Prayer) Team for the past six years at Visitation Academy.
In my letter of recommendation, I would like to give additional meanings to the acronym REAP!
Real: men and women work with Paul as volunteers and share the stories of their lives and witness to their faith in Jesus during the retreat.
Energy: the day moves quickly with a varied format. Icebreakers, small groups, large group, input, sharing, dramas, student involvement constitute the day. The day is never boring for teens.
Always organized: Paul, the founder and CEO, is very organized. He comes to Visitation Academy about 3 weeks prior to the retreat to meet with students who have previously surveyed their class about needs for the retreat. Then in a few days I receive from him a schedule for the day tailored to meet the needs of this particular class. Paul arrives at school early the day of retreat to get set up.
Prayerful: When the day arrives, Paul and his volunteers arrive at school in time to pray together before the retreat begins. Paul's faith is very important to him. And he allows space for the Spirit to work especially if a particular need arises for the retreatants; Paul adjusts the retreat plans. Paul designs a well organized yet flexible retreat schedule.
I highly recommend the REAP Team as facilitators for a teen retreat experience!
—Sr. Carol Orf, Campus Minister at the Academy of the Visitation, St. Louis, MO
The REAP Team, a Catholic youth retreat ministry, is truly a spiritual gift for the youth of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I have had Paul and the REAP team give a day of recollection for my confirmation candidates for almost ten years. In all of these years I have never had a confirmandi make negative comments regarding the content of the day of recollection.
The REAP Team has the unique ability to touch youth in ways that they are able to understand, relate, and discern God's love and concern for them. My experience has been that the teens will discuss and remember the message they received from certain skits the REAP Team did for them during a day of recollection.
Our parish is having a Family Renewal during Lent this year. We have asked Paul and the REAP Team to be here for the junior and senior high students each evening. A number of the senior high kids are coming because they remember the impact of their Confirmation recollection day.
I praise and thank God for the REAP team's ministry to the youth of the archdiocese. All diocese should be so blest.
—Sr. Rose Dobelman, C.P.P.S., DRE at Most Precious Blood Parish, St. Louis, MO
Paul, I don't know if I have every truly thanked you enough for the wonderful training I have received from you and the REAP Team. I just finished giving a retreat to the Deacon community of the Jefferson City, MO diocese using many things I learned from you. These deacons and their wives will use some of the ideas to reach others with God's word. You know that I have received extensive training in homiletics and oral interpretation. REAP has given me skills which include many of the methods of communication which I have learned and which I teach in my Advanced Homiletics course. REAP has given me a new and exciting methods of reaching all ages of people. Men are waiting to get into my class because of the unusual methods I use for preaching. We can and do reach all ages with visual and humorous but meaningful skits and dramas. Keep up the good work.
—Deacon Dennis Chitwood, Director of the Newman Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis
My name is Steve Allgeyer and I am the full-time Director of Youth Ministry at Incarnate Word Catholic Church. I have been working in youth ministry for only 1Â½ years and I have seen many things in youth ministry that work and many more that don't. Leading teenagers to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is as difficult as teaching them to clean house. Nevertheless, despite all these difficulties there is always one thing I can count on when we need some Christian support. The REAP Team has been a great asset to my ministry. I can personally endorse the REAP Team due to their magnificent leadership. This is not a fly-by-night ministry. Paul & Lisa Masek pick only those people that show a strong conviction for Jesus Christ. They do not mess around when it comes to sharing their faith. Unlike many people, the REAP leaders unconditionally open their hearts to teenagers and share openly how Jesus has healed their wounds. I use the REAP Team for many activities when my schedule conflicts. The response from my teens is a genuine realization of Christ in their lives.
Paul & Lisa make you feel so comfortable to pass the reigns of your youth over to. They truly speak from the love Christ has put in their hearts. The REAP Team has put so many years of service to spreading the Good News of Christ that they have seen what really works. In a world where so many are struggling to be heard, it is always reassuring that Christ's voice can he heard through the devotion of those on the REAP Team. The REAP Team is truly an inspiration to me and a main reason that the future of youth ministry in St. Louis is so promising.
—Steve Allgeyer, Director of Youth Ministry, Incarnate Word Catholic Church, Chesterfield, MO
For about ten years now our high school has invited the REAP Team to do our days of Recollections for the students. In all these years I have yet to hear a student say the day was boring. The REAP Team helps the students take an honest look at their life. They help them take that first step to being a good Christian.
—Tom Prost, Religion Teacher at St. Vincent High School in Perryville MO