Like most of the graduating class of 2014, John Piotrowski is preparing for a change of pace come fall.
But instead of spending his summer months anticipating another year of study, Piotrowski will be preparing to embark on a mission serving the National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries of Canada.
For nine months, he’ll be joining the Roman Catholic organization in hopes of spreading the Gospel and “bringing Christ to Canada’s youth.”
Piotrowski said that after spending the greater part of his education confused about his future, he prayed to God in hopes of finding an answer.
On his way home from a youth retreat, God answered him with NET.
“It just hit me that this was what I needed to do,” Piotrowski exclaimed. “I applied to NET because it just felt right.”
After spending a month filling out the application and flying to Toronto for an interview, Piotrowski formally was accepted a few weeks ago.
NET Canada teams lead more than 300 retreats and minister 25,000 youths across the country every year.
Each of the selected members are trained in Quebec for five weeks before they are assigned to a mission, leaving a haze of uncertainty over where he might end up.
Still, Piotrowski is certain about two things—he is excited to pursue youth ministry and he knows what to expect regardless of his placement.
Having been a dedicated youth group member himself, Piotrowski attended countless retreats staged here in Fort Frances.
“There’s an Encounter Team and Parish Team, so I will be on one of the two,” he noted.
“I will either be based in a parish all year or with the other team moving across Canada.
“I am expecting a lot of early mornings setting up for the retreats that we will be putting on and then helping out with the activities throughout the day,” he added.
Each team consists of Catholics aged 18-28 who lead faith retreats and perform community service in their assigned area.
The groups of young people will set out to create a high-energy experience and an honest presentation of the Gospel through personal testimony and the sacraments.
These are qualities Fr. Victor De Gagné of St. Mary’s Church here said will serve Piotrowski not only in faith, but in life.
“While they [all] go through the same training and work together on the same retreats and events, the overall experience is very personal,” Fr. De Gagné noted.
“Each person comes away with something different—a new insight about themselves, developing talents and skills that they did not know they had, or a clearer vision of the vocation God is calling them to.
“My hope for John is that he opens his heart to the entire experience . . . and I know that John will do just that,” Fr. De Gagné added.
The youth of St. Mary’s are planning a spaghetti fundraiser for Piotrowski on June 1.
Donations will be accepted at the door, with all proceeds going towards the $6,500 cost associated with Piotrowski’s journey.