Oddwalk Ministries


Advent Vinegar or Sugar?


It is hopefully no surprise to anyone by now that the Church has entered another new year, as always beginning with the season of Advent.  It should also surprise no one when I (Orin) observe that some places have been in full-on Christmas mode since November 1, if not before.

Many of our peers in Church life, be they youth ministers, liturgists, priests, or the faithful baptized are bothered, perhaps even perturbed by the rush into the Christmas celebrations, and that by 7pm on December 25, some trees have already been kicked to the curb.  “One thing at a time,” they exclaim.  “We need more stillness, silence, waiting, expectation in our lives.  We need to remember the Lord is coming again!  We need to remember our traditions and our history.”

I suspect I can speak for Shannon too, but I certainly don’t disagree with any of that.  I am at the same time not so sure how much the angsty “Waaaaaaaah it’s still advent and also get off my lawn” sorts of statements and social media posts help.  Perhaps it’s just venting among friends, but I don’t think it’ll “convert” anyone to a certain way of seeing things, in this case the need we all have for a few weeks of advent in our lives.

A few days ago I posted this as a comment on a friend’s facebook status – a status that was more tongue-in-cheek than anything – but was still one about how Christmas had begun too soon.

Working at a Catholic shrine where a christmas drivethru of lights began a week (or sometimes more) before thanksgiving and the first thing one saw was a giant arch that said “Merry Christmas” across the top, I feel your pain. I used to be rather “vinegar” about it all; I try to be a little more “sugar” these days.

So, to that end, We at Oddwalk crafted a little video, one that is itself goofy and tongue-in-cheek, but attempts to use humor to remind folks, “Hey, don’t forget it’s still Advent around here.”  Hopefully this little bit of sugar will go further than some folks’ vinegar this time of year.  We are better evangelists when we do so with joy, after all.  So, check out what happens when you take some cheery advent songs and change them from major to minor.  Advent blessings to you all.  —Orin


NCCYM 2016 Videos


This past weekend, Oddwalk was invited to take on several roles that exemplify the things we find important in our ministries, at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in San Jose, California.  We are grateful for these opportunities, whether it’s leading prayer, encouraging audience participation, making people laugh, or commenting on our retreat ministry.  Here are a few videos of those moments.


First, here we are, with Shannon’s wife Erin, singing a prelude before the Saturday morning mass, a piece by Orin titled “To Know Darkness,” published by GIA Publications and on our “Walk Away Different” CD.


Next, here we are talking a bit about our retreat ministry at a “Great Ideas” session later that day.


But a highlight for us of these NCCYM weekends is the “Youth Ministry Extravaganza” — a chance for folks like us, who “do what we do,” to thank the youth ministers (and others) in attendance and hopefully feed their souls through, among other things, humor.  We relish the chance to create original “set pieces” for this night (previously “May God Bless and Keep You,” “Songs We Should Never Record” and others); this year, thanks to an idea from our friend Erin Brennan, we created a segment where we pretend to be covering the Games of the XXIII Liturginerd Olympiad.


For a couple extra “goodies” related to the Liturginerd Olympics, click here! Thanks San Jose and the NFCYM for a great conference, see you next year at NCYC!

Songs We Should Never Record – NCCYM 2014


songsweshouldneverrecordHello everybody! Boy, did we have a blast at NCCYM in San Antonio this past weekend – we hope you did too. We’re happy to make available to our visitors, absolutely free, various versions of our small piece of the Friday Night Youth Ministry Extravaganza, “Songs We Should Never Record.” Many people have asked us about video, audio, or lyrics – and they’re all here!

First, the video:


And, an mp3 you are free to download!
♫ SongsWeShouldNeverRecord.mp3 ♫
(use the pic above for artwork – click to enlarge – if you like!)

And a pdf with all the lyrics and a few of the images from the show: songsweshouldneverrecord.pdf

The mp3 is also out on the pOddcast now, if you are a subscriber!

We also want to add a special word of thanks to our friend Mike Kivett, who penned the words to “There They Go, Lord.” Mike is a great live audio technician, he helped us with our first couple self-produced CDs, and most importantly is an all around good egg. When he heard some our silly stuff we were asking him to record, he shared with us his little creation, and we’re certainly glad he did. Thanks, Mike!

And thanks as well to the NFCYM for a great conference as always, and great NCYCs the other years. See you next fall in Indy!

PS – A couple people have asked us about the lyrics to the “Stand By Your Man” parody we sang as part of the finale of the night. Those words were written by Bob Rice, here they are:

Sometimes its hard to be a pastor,
Caring for all those ministries.
Absolving all those sins, the roof is caving in,
And the youth room needs a 55 inch flat screen high definition TV.

Stand by your man,
Give him an ear to listen.
It’s hard, he’s always giving,
And you are kind of needy.
Stand by your man,
And even if he’s awkward,
Make him look as cool as you can,
Baby! Stand by your man.

NCCYM and Wishin’ Wonderland


Oddwalk had a great time at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry over the weekend in Orlando, FL. We saw a lot of old friends and met a few new ones as well. We also had the opportunity to share our ministry in a variety of settings, including the Center for Ministry Development booth, the Resource Expo Stage, a breakout session, and the Youth Ministry Extravaganza. All of these went extremely well. Congratulations goes out to the NFCYM staff and the Orlando volunteers for a great conference.

Since a few of you have asked us for the lyrics to the song we performed at the Youth Ministry Extravaganza, we’ve decided to list them here. Enjoy!


Wishin’ Wonderland
(parody of Winter Wonderland)

Adapted by Shannon Cerneka and Orin Johnson (Oddwalk Ministries)

Orin: It’s staff meeting Monday, I’m falling asleep, The principal’s fighting with the DRE,
Someone keeps moving the school desks at CCD.

No one really knows what it is that I do,
My office is tiny and my budget is too,
Meanwhile, down at the [superlong mega-seeker-church name] they have more money than they know what to do with,
I can’t imagine what I’d do with a budget like that…

Shannon: Well, let’s go walkin’ and wishin’ together. Orin: Together?
Shannon: Together!

We’d have a pool and a sauna
and the guys at Benihanas,
At youth group they’d make us lobster and steak, just Walkin’ in our wishin’ wonderland.

Orin: You mean, I’d never ever ever ever ever ever have to eat pizza ever again? Shannon: No Orin, never.
Orin: Wow!

And we’d pay off all the coaches
At the high school which encroaches on ev’ry event we plan ev’ry lent, Walkin’ in our wishin’ wonderland.

Orin: Wait, could we pay them off all year long, and like the band director and everyone else too?
Shannon: Sure!

Then in our fifteen-thousand seat arena we’d have praise and worship ev’ry night! Monday-Wednesday-Friday it’s Matt Maher. Shannon: Chris Tomlin at the others?

Orin: Oh, alright!

We’ll hire people who seem cooler
just to talk to middle-schoolers
And someone else who will play: hunter, bear, karate walkin in our wishin’ wonderland

During Holy Week we’ll play a movie,
Probably “The Passion of the Christ.”
Orin: What if all the teens have lots of questions? Shannon: Jim Caveizel will be there should they arise.

With such success, our pastor’s beamin’
We just might get one whole free weekend
And all alone we will stay, with Downton Abbey all day,

Orin: Hang on, I’m getting a text… it’s my pastor, it says, “Nice prayer at staff meeting, next youth group the pizza’s . . . on him!” Both: Walkin’… in our wishin’… wonderland!

More NCCYM Videos!!


Here are a couple more videos from our trip to New Orleans for the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry earlier this month. Thanks to YouTube’s SCRKmom1186 for posting these. The first is from our appearance on the Exhibit Hall Stage. Be sure to notice an appearance by Oddwalk friend, Butch Ekstrom, and a guy…