By Anne Marie Amacher
Since last fall, Abby Lantzky has traveled throughout the Midwest and South with National Evangelization Teams Ministries to challenge young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church.
According to the Minnesota-based ministry, 120 young Catholics ages 18-28 leave their jobs, school, family and friends to devote nine months to serving NET. Eleven teams travel across the U.S. each year.
Lantzky and her team’s members are serving their first year with NET, “but some of us have been associated with NET prior to coming on the road,” she said. Some have participated on NET parish teams or attended retreats at Community of Christ the Redeemer in the NET center, for example.
So far Lantzky has served in 12 dioceses in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa and South Dakota.
“We have routes for the fall and spring that each team is assigned, but that does not necessarily mean we are confined to one region of the country,” she said. She noted that one team spent more than a month in South Dakota, and then traveled to California.
She’s had so many good experiences with NET that “I couldn’t even begin to narrow that down,” said Lantzky, 18, a graduate of Assumption High School and member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, both in Davenport. One of the greatest ongoing experiences is growing in her personal relationship with the Lord, she said. “I cannot even fathom the work God has done in my heart, in five simple months. Also the beauty of sisterhood and brotherhood on the team is such an amazing experience, and the love we have on my team is unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced.”
During the retreats Lantzky and the team do ice-breaking activities using games and skits. A main talk revolves around one of six central themes – which hosts may select. “We have dramas and personal testimonies from team members. The main focus of the retreat is the prayer ministry,” she said.
“We have an exhortation, retreat and testimony. Then we give time for each young person to pray. We come up to each in our small group and pray over them by placing a hand on his or her shoulder.”
Also during the visits, Lantzky said the team takes time for prayer each day, “which is charismatic praise and worship.” They have a music leader who plays guitar, but they all take turns planning and leading team prayer. “We also each take at least a half-hour for personal prayer each morning, which is vital to our relationship with God. As well, we pray before and after each retreat, and at any point during the day when prayer is needed.”
Constant traveling and living out of suitcase has not bothered Lantzky. “Obviously there are small inconveniences, but the beauty of NET is my learning how to die to myself and to sacrifice for the betterment of my relationship with God and my teammates, as well as to better serve the young people on retreat or host families.”
Lantzky and all NET members spent time at the NET Center in West St. Paul, Minn., for training before their tour and then attended a refresher course before resuming their work this winter.
Another NET team completed a visit to the Diocese of Davenport last month. “We were actually very blessed to host my team at my family home (in Davenport) for a night on our way to South Dakota. Other than that, the closest we’ve been are the dioceses of Rockford and Joliet, Ill.”
She got involved with NET “by essentially growing up with it. I had a desire and felt a strong calling to minister instead of attending college in the fall.”
NET has been everything Lantzky thought it would be and more. “I could not be happier with God’s plan for me for this year, and all he has done in me and through me.”
Lantzky will complete her nine month-commitment in May.