STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—“Go and rebuild my Church,” Christ told St. Francis of Assisi many years ago. Even in the 21st century, this call rings true for the more than 38,000 teens attending Franciscan University of Steubenville High School Youth Conferences each summer. Now, these teens have a fresh new resource to strengthen their life of faith: www.Steubenville.org.
“This is a way to engage and minister to the teens who come to our conferences,” said John Beaulieu, director of Franciscan University’s youth conferences. “Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have promoted the new evangelization through technology. This is a way of using that technology to evangelize and continue to catechize young people.”
The website features video and audio from prominent speakers and musicians in the youth ministry movement, including Jason Evert, Kelly Pease, Mark Hart, Father Stan Fortuna, CFR, Joia Farmer, and Sean Forrest. The topic-driven menu includes subjects such as sacraments, morality, vocations, and teen culture.
The site also offers interactive resources, such as a video contest for teens to make their own promotion videos for the conferences and vote online for the winner.
In addition to the website, a free app for iPhone and iPod Touch has been released to encourage teens to take their faith on the go. The app works with the website and helps teens connect with friends in prayer, learn more about their faith, and grow as young Catholics to help build the Church locally and internationally. In the near future, an app will be released for Android-based smartphones.
One key aspect of the app is Steubenville United, with which teens can “check off” spiritual activities they do, such as “Going to Adoration,” “Going to Mass,” and “Attending Youth Group.”
With several thousand hits daily, “We’re quickly becoming the leading Catholic youth website on the Internet,” Beaulieu said. “We have about 7,000 registered users and many more who have come and looked at it.
“The sky’s the limit,” said Beaulieu, citing future plans that include weekly teen-oriented Gospel reflections and Scripture studies. “Steubenville.org is a tool to let youth know how universal the Church is.”