JAM - Jesus And Me
On February 21st and 22nd 1998, the first teen renewal weekend called JAM (“Jesus And Me”) was held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Peoria Heights, Illinois. At that time, JAM was the culmination of over a year of planning by Deacon Don Efinger, Fr. Bo Schmidt, and a team of lay parishioners. Deacon Efinger said, “JAM is the result of many requests that I have had from the different WATCH communities in the Diocese (of Peoria) for a parish teen based renewal program similar to WATCH and from a strong desire to provide a program that would give our teens a sense of belonging, a deeper relationship with Christ, and a stronger commitment to the Sacraments & their parish.” (WATCH is a parish adult renewal weekend that was started by Deacon Efinger in 1988 at St. Thomas and has been taken to over 25 different parishes inside and outside the Diocese of Peoria.)
The JAM team is led by a lay leader, a teen leader, and a spiritual leader along with about eight other teen leaders as well as eight other adult leaders (the size of the team may vary depending on expected attendance and things of that nature). The JAM team meets once a week for seven to eight weeks prior to the weekend to preview the talks and plan the activities for the weekend. JAM is directed at high school teens, especially freshman and sophomores. The weekend begins around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and ends early Sunday evening. A JAM weekend includes five talks given by teenage members of the team, five talks given my adult members of the team (clergy and lay persons), and many other types of witnessing to Christ meant to help the participants grow closer in their relationship with Him. The talks cover topics such as choices, loneliness, reconciliation, chastity, Eucharist, and grace (among others). The participants will also experience para-liturgies and slide presentations designed to touch their hearts in a more dynamic way. JAM is a co-ed weekend and the participants spend the night at the facility where the weekend is being held.
Deacon Efinger said that it was important to begin this program in order to “help our youth realize: the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives; the importance and uniqueness that each one of them brings to the Church; and the importance of their relationship to Christ and the Sacraments and the realization that they have much to contribute to their parish and the universal Church.”