by MIKE CHAIKEN
A Bristol woman will be putting her love of Christ and dedication to the Catholic church into action for nine months when she heads to Ireland next month to undertake youth ministry efforts in that nation.
Teallia Sullivan, a St. Paul Catholic High School graduate, will be going to Ireland with National Evangelism Team ministry. The organization works in conjunction and with the cooperation of the Catholic church (but is not part of the church) in several countries, including Ireland.
Teallia said she first learned about NET when the organization came to St. Paul to mount a retreat for students. She was so enthused about the program, she wanted to participate straight out of high school. But instead she opted to go to college for a few years before signing up to participate.
Now, Teallia is on her way next month where she will organize Catholic retreats for high school students “giving them the opportunity to encounter Christ… (and an) opportunity to get to really know the Catholic Church better.”
The goal of the retreats, said Teallia, is to give the youth of Ireland “an encounter that’s positive and showing that the church is very much alive. (And that) the church is a place for them to feel loved and welcome.”
This isn’t the first opportunity Teallia has taken to spread the Catholic message in Ireland. Teallia, who intends to enter a religious community in Baltic, Conn. to become a nun upon her return, spent a week in January “pub evangelizing.”
Teallia said the members of NET would go into the pubs and clubs in Ireland to talk about the church. “(We would) talk to people across the board: fall away Catholics, atheists, Protestants.” Everyone she spoke to was friendly and listened to what she had to say. “The Irish are very open-minded…” Even if they didn’t agree with what she had to say, they listened.
“(The people of Ireland) are searching. They’re looking to be changed. They were ready to hear (my message) and they welcomed it.”
Working with the youth of Ireland, said Teallia, will be a different experience than going into the pubs each night to talk about the church.
But Teallia said, “I’m not nervous about it. Just knowing the Irish personality, it won’t be anything negative. But (the encounters with the youth) might be a lot more aggressive than I had experienced in pubs. (The young people of Ireland will have) more opportunity to question me since I’ll be there longer.”
Teallia said she expected things to get especially heated with the young people when it comes to such “hot button” issues as contraception and abortion.
Although she knows what she will be doing in Ireland, Teallia said she isn’t sure where she’s going or how it will be structured. She could be staying in one location for those nine months, building a parish youth ministry program that will continue after she leaves. There also is the possibility she will travel throughout the country, spending a few days here or few days there leading youth retreats.
Before she can go on her trip, which begins on Aug. 17 and runs through May 2013, Teallia is looking for assistance from the community in terms of donations.
“As a missionary with NET, I’m committed to raise $6,000 for expenses.” NET, which is a non-profit organization, will provide a monthly stipend off 100 euros a month, and they will take care of accommodations, meals, training, and health insurance. But the participants are asked to provide part of the cost. In addition, Teallia said, she is responsible for the cost of her flight to Ireland.
Thus far, Teallia said, she has received most of her donations from individuals. She also is in the process of soliciting donations from assorted organizations in the city.
To make donations easier, Teallia has set up a website, www.indiegogo.com/ changeforchange. You can also contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (860) 940-9883 to make arrangements for donations.