Believing that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the core message of our Christian faith, TEC is a recognized movement of the Roman Catholic Church, offering to youth and young adults an experience of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. Through evangelization and catechesis, this intergenerational movement facilitates spiritual growth of youth and young adults with a community of adult mentors. TEC calls forth one’s goodness for service in the Church and world. Toward this end, TEC is committed to providing formation and education of adult leaders, quality resources, and a network of support and communication.
In the afterglow of the Second Vatican Counsel, Fr. Matt Fedewa, a priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, designed a retreat experience to focus the essentials of the Catholic faith for older adolescents. As a teacher of a senior class, Fr. Fedewa was well aware of the disenchantment of youth. The initiative for his work was informed, in part, by his experience in adult faith communities like the Cursillo movement. Two insights contributed greatly to Fr. Fedewa’s development of the new Teens Encounter Christ Retreat:
- Ministry to youth in America needed to adopt the approach of missionary catechesis, which meant that the Good News should be presented within the context of youth culture.
- Many youth have been sacramentalized without having been initiated into the faith. There was a need for young people to experience the core truths of the faith.
The first TEC weekend was held in October 1965 on the campus of the Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, where Sr. M. Concetta, RSM (now Dorothy Gereke), the administrator of the hospital, hosted and assisted in refining details. In the following years, the movement met with great success in the Lansing diocese and was shared with many other dioceses. Today 80 TEC programs are active in 59 dioceses, including several outside the United States.
TEC first arrived in New Orleans in 1966. After a period of growth and more than 100 weekends, the movement became dormant in the 1970s. In 1982 the movement was re-founded with great enthusiasm. Since that date, the New Orleans TEC movement has offered over 100 weekend retreats, touching thousands of lives. New Orleans TEC counts as active community members: priests, religious brothers and sisters, married couples, single men and women, as well as hundreds of young adults and teens.
New Orleans TEC is organized under the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is guided by a core group of community members who work with the Archdiocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the benefit of the whole New Orleans community. New Orleans TEC currently offers four retreats each year, which are staffed by a priest, and a trained team of former TEC retreatants.
In 1997, the National Manual for TEC was presented to Pope John Paul II by Archbishop Roger Scwietz, OMI (TEC Episcopal Moderator), Rev. James Brown, OAR, Rev. Matt Fedewa and Dorothy Gereke. This revised manual was implemented in New Orleans in 1999. In 2005, TEC celebrated the 40th Anniversary of its founding. Several members of the TEC New Orleans movement traveled to Belleville, Illinois for the festivities.
In 2007, TEC New Orleans celebrated the Silver Anniversary of its re-founding with a Communities of Faith and Follow-Through Retreat, presented by the staff of the national TEC Conference. On October 13, 2007, TEC New Orleans gathered at Notre Dame Seminary to celebrate the Eucharist and enjoy a meal in commemoration of its 25 year history, as well as TEC #100.
Method of Catechesis
TEC offers to youth and young adults the opportunity to encounter and integrate the Paschal Mystery at a time of passage into young adulthood. What the Church celebrates annually through the seasons of Lent-Easter-Pentecost and through the sacraments of initiation, TEC condenses into a three-day experience.
It provides a lived experience of the essential truths of our faith, drawing youth/young adults to a commitment to Christ and empowering them to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today. Through evangelization and catechesis, this intergenerational movement facilitates spiritual growth of youth and young adults within a community of adult mentors.