Story

Cole Hepp

I often consider my experience working with this program one of the most formational things I truly have ever been a part of.

 

What do you see as the value of the program? 

In my eyes, the One Bread One Cup program at St. Meinrad provides everyone involved with an authentic experience into the beauty of liturgy and community. Following the Benedictine’s model, all of the high school and adult participants receive a glimpse into the monastic way of life, which I believe has the power to work wonders for the soul. 

Everyone coming to the Hill (St. Meinrad) brings “life” from the outside, whether that is school, work, family, or just general busy-ness and stress. Over the course of the five-day liturgical conference, the students have the opportunity to dive deep into theological reflection groups (small faith sharing groups) to talk and pray. 

The unique and special part about this program, though, is that the students do not just dive into faith sharing groups, but they also receive an immersion into the beautiful liturgy of the Catholic Church, both the liturgy of the hours and the mass. To navigate this five day journey, the students have amazing college interns as leaders who are there to journey with them. I believe an experience like this opens a door in the students’ hearts to pursue Christ in a new way - through community but also in the liturgy.

 

How was your experience working with the program?

I often consider my experience working with this program one of the most formational things I truly have ever been a part of. Three factors contribute to this – the community, the liturgy and the Hill.

As part of the collegiate intern community, I became a better man, friend, minister and Catholic. Through the sharing of meals, prayer and frisbee games, I learned so much about others as well as myself. This community also consisted of lay staff members and a monastic presence that provided a true sense of stability and guidance over the course of the summer.

As a convert myself, I had become intrigued with the mass and the liturgy in my latter years of high school, but the liturgy at St. Meinrad, whether that be with the monks or as an intern or conference community, is something I had never felt before. I think one comes to appreciate and acquire a sense of true love for the liturgy when they have the opportunity to actively participate and help lead. Whether that is through bringing up the gifts, reading at mass or chanting the psalms, it makes the glimpse of heaven of the liturgy just a bit bigger.

St. Meinrad, the Holy Hill, is a truly sacred ground. From the beautiful Archabbey to Monte Cassino to the monks who walk the grounds each day, St. Meinrad has the ability to draw the best out of people, and when I say best, I mean a process where the true and holiest versions of self very slowly become exposed. As part of the intern interviews, all applicants spend one night at the Hill, and many say that this one night has changed them for the better forever even if they do not work as an intern.

 

What was the best thing about working with your program?

The best thing about working with the program is that the entirety of the program is focused on Christ through the liturgy. The focal point is never myself, the high school participants, the adults or even the monks. The focal point is Christ. Whether we are in the chapel or preparing the high school students to lead liturgy in the chapel, there is a common direction. With this being said, the meals, games and conversations all allow fellowship and friendship to arise.

I believe that our faith is rooted in relationships. Firstly, our relationship with God, and secondly, our relationship with others. I leave every high school conference with a deepened appreciation for my relationship with God and so many new, awesome people!

 

How did you see students change during and after the program?

My hope for each conference is that students emerge as better versions of who they are truly meant to be. For some, this is a renewed sense of faith and life that eases burdens they might have been carrying because they were able to attend reconciliation and talk in their theological reflection group. For others, you see them emerge as leaders based on how they took charge of their role in the liturgy. Oftentimes for some, you will see a true excitement about their experience at St. Meinrad with the liturgy and a genuine desire to go back to their youth group and begin to be more active. All of these are blessings and all of these are gifts that come from OBOC. It is really neat to see who receives what gift.

 

How do you think this program helps students learn about themselves, the world, or ministry?

I believe the One Bread One Cup Program helps students receive an authentic experience with a ministry they might not be as familiar with. What makes this program so unique and needed in this world is that it trains young men and women in the liturgy, including both the mass and the liturgy of the hours. Students have the ability to break away from negative stereotypes about being religious, being Catholic, or what have you, and they receive a true glimpse into the foundation of the Catholic Church – the liturgy. I believe this will forever change these young men and women’s viewpoints on ministry and their place in the Catholic Church.

 

Do you feel students were better equipped for their next step or stage of life after attending? 

I believe a true cornerstone to this program is that it is led by college interns, ranging from 18-22 years old. The college interns serve as catechists, theological reflection group leaders and more. Over the course of the week, the students get to engage with and learn from the college interns. They also get to listen to a discipleship panel, often hearing from a variety of people including vowed religious, ordained priests, lay people, one of the college interns and married couples. In addition to this, there is a lot of time to just talk and pray with one another about hopes and dreams. Through the exposure to a lot of various ways to live one's call to holiness, I believe the high school students become better equipped in discerning their own next steps.

 

Did this experience shape your career or ministry engagement in general? 

Absolutely! My experience as an intern has greatly shaped my career and ministry engagement. During my college experience, I was able to help lead the RCIA program on campus as well as help out with other campus ministry opportunities. One of my favorite things is to journey with people on their walk of faith while realizing that we are all learning and growing together. Based on the skills and knowledge from OBOC, I felt more equipped to serve in these ways. 

Today I serve as a Social Studies Educator at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis where I am excited to be part of a rich culture of the faith. I am hoping I can put some of my experience to use with school liturgies, retreats, in the classroom or just through conversations with students.

 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to lead a program like this?

Never look at yourself or your past and say you should not lead a program like this. God calls us to a renewed sense of holiness and we all can inspire others by being the truest versions of ourselves. Go for it – my prayers are with you.

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