“When I’m here, I can be my true and authentic self. I’m free to be who God made me to be because God has shown Himself to me in a true and authentic way.” This is how Luke Messmer, a past participant and college intern for One Bread, One Cup describes his experience at the five-day conference.

“One Bread, One Cup” is a program of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. It has just completed its 22nd year in leading high school youth in discovering the liturgy through Benedictine spirituality. Since 1995, the program has evolved into a five-day conference that guides young people toward an authentic encounter with Christ through the liturgy.

High school youth come to “One Bread, One Cup” from all over the United States. Registered through groups from their parishes or high schools, they choose one of ten liturgical formation sessions to learn the skills needed to become liturgical ministers.

These skills are celebrated each day at both Mass and Liturgy of the Hours (morning and night prayer). By the end of the conference, the youth are ready to return to their parish or high school communities to practice their new roles.

What is it about this conference that evokes such a response from a young person?

It could be that in our culture, few such opportunities exist for young people to spend time in quiet prayer, even within the context of Church programs. It could be that our society has lost sight of the value of contemplation and self-awareness, amid the noise of achievement and successful life tracks.

For these reasons and many others, “One Bread, One Cup” gives youth the time and space to reflect on their response to the call of Christ and to hear his voice, right where they are.

Conference participants will consider the four movements of the Mass, which are described as, Gathering, Word, Sacrament and Mission. Each day’s catechetical presentation focuses on one of these themes, along with the theological reflection conversations that are held each evening in small groups.

Afternoons, at the conference, invite youth participants to attend their chosen liturgical formation sessions. There they are invited to deepen their understanding of the ministries within the liturgy. They then apply what they learn each day as youth become the liturgical ministers during the “One Bread, One Cup” Mass, as well as presiding at and delivering reflection talks during the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Benedictine motto of Ora et Labora (“work and prayer”) is a rhythm that resounds within the heart of young people. It speaks of balance and stability, a hallmark of Benedictine spirituality that is quite attractive in a world of quickly shifting expectations, definitions and responsibilities.

Longing for grounding in a world of confusing messages, today’s youth are offered a time and place to step back from their busy lives and reflect on the role that faith has for them. They can discover new ways in which they might respond to their faith through engaging in liturgical ministries.

How has Luke Messmer’s involvement in “One Bread, One Cup” prepared him for his life as an adult?

“As I go forth from this place, I am ready to continue my vocational discernment,” he said. “‘One Bread, One Cup’ has enabled me to realize that, through prayer, I am able to reflect deeply upon where God is calling me to spend my life. Discerning my life as a married person or in some other vocation is what’s next for me.

“I’m so grateful to have had this time with ‘One Bread, One Cup’,” Messmer said. “I have learned the skills I’ve needed to do this work at this time in my life.”

Tammy Cooper Becht is Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. For more information about “One Bread, One Cup” conferences or internships for college students, please visit their website at saintmeinrad.edu/youth/ or email them at oboc@saintmeinrad.edu.