By ROBERTA OLSON
While a lot of the details about Shayne Winter’s next year are undecided, there is one thing that is settled.
Winter has signed up for a nine-month term with National Evangelization Teams (NET). He was eager to get started when he left Aug. 17.
The 2017 Sauk Centre High School graduate is the son of Vince and Diane Winter of Sauk Centre, and a member of Our Lady of the Angels Parish.
His first contact with NET Ministry came as a sophomore when a NET traveling team came to Sauk Centre at the invitation of Youth Director Kathy Knoblach to put on a retreat. As a junior, Winter attended a NET Retreat, learning more about the program.
“Attending the NET retreat really changed my life,” said Winter. “Since 10th grade I only missed two youth group events.”
He serves at Mass often, and attended every first Friday Mass at Our Lady of Angels. He became active in the youth group, and enjoyed the meetings that paired students in grades 9-12 with the younger students in grades 6-8 for Wednesday night classes and gatherings.
As a senior, he made the decision to dedicate a year to the NET ministry.
In March, Winter applied for the program, followed by attending an interview weekend. Once he received his acceptance letter, a time of fundraising began. Each NET volunteer is asked to raise at least $6,000 of the actual cost of $20,000 for each volunteer to spend the year in ministry.
Winter sent out personal letters, followed by speaking to both Our Lady of Angels and St. Paul’s parishes in June.
“I raised close to $6,500 from that,” Winter said, noting he has reached $10,000 in fundraising.
Everything was in place for Winter when he left Sauk Centre, equipped with only one suitcase and one backpack. He first traveled to St. Paul to the NET Headquarters, along with 170 other volunteers, for a three-day stay.
From there the group moved on to Camp Wapo, near Amery, Wis. for two weeks.
“We have to leave our phones home,” he said before he left. “After two weeks we get our phones back, and then spend three more weeks of training.”
Finally, the volunteers will be assigned to their teams. Some will be traveling teams, and that is Winter’s first choice for service.
Traveling teams travel 20,000 miles, serve in seven or eight dioceses, facilitate 150 retreats, stay in 125 host homes, and reach 8,500 young people one-on-one with the Gospel.
Some will be assigned to parish teams and others to school teams.
Teams number eight to 14 people, who become family for each other as they work side by side sharing what God has done in their lives. They will have two weeks off in late December to go home to their own families.
“I am most excited about the host homes. Then we’ll get to talk to older adults and get their experiences, as well,” he said.
Winter said over the summer he was “doing a lot of praying,” in addition to his part-time job at Coborn’s.
He also enjoyed his last weeks with his hometown friends, who are wondering just who Winter will be when he returns home.
“My friends have joked that I am going to change a lot, and I’m going to be a completely different person. They are fantasizing how I am going to be so different,” he said. “They have me as being like this saint. If I could reach that level that would be cool, but I am not going in the NET to achieve sainthood.”
Winter expects he will be different when he comes back home. “I think I am going to be more calm,” he said.
The Winter family includes an older brother, Chris, who completed studies at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, and who now works on the Crookston campus. Dad works in construction for Breitbach’s, and Mom is a teller at First State Bank of Sauk Centre.
“At first my parents were a little uneasy,” Winter said. “I am their last son. They will be empty-nesters.”
When Winter completes his year with NET ministries, he plans to enroll at the University of Minnesota-Duluth to study computer science.
Two other local young people have served with NET ministries, Nick Lahr in 2011, and Rachel Bosl, who is a full-time volunteer on the administrative team for NET Ireland.
People who wish to donate to NET Ministries can do so through the NET website, being sure to ask that Winter’s account be credited.