February 10, 2017

Missionary to Ireland has ‘love for helping youth know Christ’

Lindsey Scott, right, and her NET Ministries team members perform a drama during a retreat for 130 seventh-grade girls in Dublin, Ireland, on Jan. 17. Scott, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, is a missionary with the nonprofit Catholic ministry, which evangelizes and teaches the faith to youths around the globe. (Submitted photo)

Lindsey Scott, right, and her NET Ministries team members perform a drama during a retreat for 130 seventh-grade girls in Dublin, Ireland, on Jan. 17. Scott, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, is a missionary with the nonprofit Catholic ministry, which evangelizes and teaches the faith to youths around the globe. (Submitted photo)

By Natalie Hoefer

Ireland was once known as a devoutly Catholic nation, with signs of the faith present as far back as the fifth century.

But the future of the faith on the Green Isle has turned grim.

While the nation’s 2011 census shows that 84 percent of the population self-identify as Catholic, a survey conducted the same year by the Irish broadcast company RTE showed that as few as 14 percent worship weekly at Mass.

Lindsey Scott, 22, can testify to the sobering figures.

“I’m not going to lie, Mass attendance is pretty sparse,” she admits.

It’s a problem that Scott and her peers are trying to turn around by serving as missionaries in the once faith-thriving country. They’re members of National Evangelization Teams (NET) Ireland, part of a global nonprofit Catholic missionary organization dedicated to sharing the Gospel message with youths.

Scott is a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis. She graduated from St. Monica School and Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School.

During her junior year of studying special education and deaf and hard-of-hearing education at Ball State University, she began to consider her post-graduation options.

“I was thinking if I wanted to go straight into teaching,” says Scott. “I really enjoyed doing youth ministry at Ball State through the Newman Center, going to NCYC [National Catholic Youth Conference]. I thought maybe I’d get a year in of missionary work before I started my career in teaching.”

She found out about NET Ireland through a friend in Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at Ball State.

“The youth in Ireland need [ministry] so much,” she says. “They have no one to lead them.”

She applied for the program and was accepted.

Scott left for Ireland in early August 2016. She is serving in “an itty-bitty parish in the middle of nowhere” in the country town of Bohermeen in County Meath, on the eastern coast of Ireland.

“Boheermen is the biggest country parish in Ireland,” she says. “It has one priest, three churches within 5-10 minutes of each other, three elementary schools, and I think about 1,000 families.”

She and six other NET missionaries comprise a team dedicated to revitalizing the faith of the youths of the parish and surrounding towns. They lead youth groups, teach confirmation classes, host high school retreats and “do whatever the priest needs us to do. It’s sometimes last minute, but the Holy Spirit helps us with whatever we need in whatever moment, which is really beautiful.”

In all that they do, says Scott, “We’re being a presence in the community to show that loving God is an amazing thing, and you can be happy and joyful. You can love God and have a fantastic life.”

Scott says that the youths she encounters in Ireland “don’t understand that youth group is for fun and learning about God. They think it’s just praying the rosary.

“That’s one of the main reasons I love being here. I want to tell them, ‘No, listen! Everything is so cool when you love God, and you can have fun at the same time!’ … I have such a love for helping youth know who Christ is and coming to know him.”

The children are starting to respond, says Scott, citing a confirmation class as an example.

“At the beginning, they were really shy,” she says. “They didn’t want to answer, and they didn’t know answers to [questions]. As the year progressed, they started getting really excited. They’d say, ‘The NET team is here! This will be fun!’ ”

Another proof of the positive effect Scott is having on the faith lives of youths in Ireland came just before she returned home for Christmas. One 12-year-old boy gave her a Christmas card that she said he had written “from the bottom of his heart.

“He wrote this beautiful paragraph about how he thought religion was boring, and there was no way to love Jesus and still have fun. He said he’s learned so much and is excited to learn about faith.

“I thought, ‘Wow, they’re actually learning and listening to us, and it’s absolutely beautiful!’ ”

Scott finds the youths now wanting to come to Mass and be more involved, but the parents are not willing to take them.

In an effort to reverse such an attitude in the next generation of parents, Scott and her peers have coordinated with an Irish Catholic organization called Youth 2000. The group organizes festivals, retreats, prayer groups and more for young adults ages 16-35 in Ireland.

“We try to get parents involved with that, but they don’t see the point,” says Scott. “They’ll drop their kids off, but [the parents] are not interested.”

The children are not the only ones benefitting from Scott’s missionary efforts.

“I am so much deeper in my faith,” she says. “I have such a greater appreciation for Mary, for the Bible, the mission of youth ministry, and also how important family is. My teammates here have become my family.

“I’ve grown so much confidence in myself, because I have people on my team who’ve pushed me to become better. I’m not afraid of talking or singing in front of people. I’m loving every minute here.”

While Scott has grown confident in speaking publicly through teaching classes and leading youth groups, she has also done so through soliciting donations to support her way as a missionary.

“We pay for our food, transportation to get to the parishes, and help fund parish programs,” she explains, “plus our training, all the materials we need to help kids in schools and the parish.”

Scott estimates living as a missionary in Ireland costs about $1,200 a month. NET Ireland requires missionaries to raise a minimum of $6,500, and a maximum of $17,000.

“Just $6,500 would be scraping by,” she says.

She has currently raised a little more than $8,000. However, when her time of service is completed at the end of May, she is considering signing on for another year, in which case she would have to raise at least another $5,000.

“It takes a lot, but I’m not worried,” says Scott. “God’s will is God’s will, and if he wants me to [join for another year], he’ll help me get there.”

Such trust is indicative of the faith that led Scott to pursue missionary work.

“I absolutely love the faith so much,” she says with exuberance. “I want to be a saint so badly. Why not? Strive for what God wants you to do and make it happen.”

She gives similar advice to anyone considering missionary work.

“Do it,” Scott says. “Ask the Lord where he’s calling you. … There are so many opportunities. You learn so much about yourself when you’re out of your own comfort zone and culture.

“You grow so much in your relationship with the Lord, and you see so many people affected by your presence and what you bring.

“Money shouldn’t stop mission work, ever,” she adds. “In St. Faustina [Kowalska’s] diary, she didn’t want to start a convent because she had no education or money. God said, ‘Take care of what you can, and I’ll do the rest.’

“God will provide us whatever we need to do his will.”

(To learn more about NET Ministries Ireland, log onto www.netministries.ie. To help fund Scott’s mission work, log onto www.netministries.ie/lindsey-scott.)

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