This past fall on Sept. 23, St. Mary Life Teen in Hudson started its year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary with Mass and a dessert reception open to the parish.

Life Teen is an international movement within the Roman Catholic Church that leads teenagers and their families into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. This program was adopted by St. Mary Church in 1993.

The silver anniversary means 25 years of pilgrimages, marches, service in Appalachia and in the inner city, ski trips, summer camps, XLTs, leadership conferences and so much more. Thousands of teens in the community and region have been impacted by Life Teen during its 25 years. Graduates are serving as youth ministers, summer camp leaders, seminarians, music ministers and CORE members ministering weekly to teens across the country.

There are young men serving as priests and young women actively discerning religious life, as well as hundreds of Christ-centered marriages and individuals. Alumni events are typically conducted around the holidays so that those who are back in town can participate.

There was a tribute dinner Feb. 23, and in August, Life Teen of St. Mary will invite the parish to a "Mass in the Grass." The finale will be the "Silver Anniversary Trees & Treasures" Dec. 7.

The tribute dinner saw 210 people gather to honor six couples for their key roles in the start and growth of the program. The honorees would be the first to say they were reluctant to be singled out when so many others have served heroically. Over 25 years, countless individuals have supported teens by being involved as CORE staff members through music ministry, parent support and more.

At the dinner, 21 women hosted the tables honoring the 12 honorees. The room was beautifully decorated with each table having unique decorations, china and silverware. The dinner was prepared by Hudson Restaurant and Catering. Life Teen students were servers with seminarians as bartenders. The program included a 15-minute video and masters of ceremonies were Fr. Patrick Schultz and Fr. Ryan Mann, both alumni of Life Teen.

To ensure continuation of this important ministry, the "25 More" fund was started. The fund will provide for future needs above and beyond the annual budget, including scholarships for fee-based events (such as retreats, conference, pilgrimages and mission trips), tech equipment and the funding of a possible Life Teen Center.

A group of generous donors started the fund with $60,000 in matching funds. Anyone who donates $125 or more will have their funds doubled. The ultimate goal of the fund is $250,000. To date, the matching funds are almost met. Consider making a donation online at stmaryhudson.cc/25more.