Oddwalk Ministries


The Joys of NCYC


It’s that every-other-year time again: the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) is almost upon us. This is an amazing event of several great joys. Here are just a few:

1) Seeing 25,000 youth gathered in one place from all around the country (and beyond) is an amazing sign of the universality of the Church and a great witness of hope to our Church now and into the future;

2) Having even passing-in-the-hall moments to greet our peers in itinerant ministry is always a blessing;

3) This year we have the joy of ministering at 2 Masses, and partnering with the NFCYM in creating a new venue at NCYC, the Music and Message Stage. We’re very excited for this opportunity. We’re also grateful that we get to have our first moments on the MainStage in Lucas Oil Stadium – both to announce the new venue (in hopefully comedic fashion) and to offer a prayer and song of blessing over the youth ambassadors at the conference.

We’ve posted a graphic below in case you need to know where to find us at NCYC. Please some say hello and add to the joy of just a great event of faith! —Orin

Joy at NPM


Hi all, Orin here, continuing his usual busy summer of acronyms: a couple weeks ago was YSP, this week is the annual convention for NPM, National Association of Pastoral Musicians.  (Next week is another YNIA which Shannon and I will do together, Shannon already told you about one of those.) Anyway, yesterday was travel day, which is why this Jesus-Justice-Joy post is a day later than usual.

Just as YSP brought me a certain joy (which a tired me told you a tiny bit about in a video), every year NPM brings me a joy as well. While of course I am a church music director in addition to my Oddwalk fun, I’m here this week also as a composer of music for the Church as well.

Here’s a photo from the exhibit hall last night of a book from GIA that both Shannon and I have songs published in, called Crossgeneration.


Knowing it’s selfish mostly, it does bring me a bit of joy to see that music that I and Shannon have written in print – but beyond my own ego, part of that joy is it being still available to the wider Church to help them pray in song. (I hope to sneak photos of other octavos in print with WLP and OCP later today!)

Another joy this week is being able to reconnect in person with so many other composers I have gotten to know over recent years. There is a certain fellowship and camaraderie in that particular group of people, with a particular ministry to and for the Church.  Here are a few of us out to dinner last night, photo credit to Kate Basi.


Sharp eyes will see my wife Erin in the photo. Another joy is being able to spend a chunk of this week with her, taking a little personal time here and there to just be us, away from home and most of the responsibilities and worries there.

All of these joys are rooted in Christ and my faith in him.  It is Christ who gathers, who forms community, and gives us talents to praise him in song.  St. Augustine purportedly once said that “The one who sings prays twice.”  If so – and I think that’s right – there’s a whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on in Cincinnati this week at NPM.  Thanks for reading!  —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!

Oddwalk at NCCYM 2016


img_0394Where will you find us at NCCYM? Just check our handy guide:

— 12/1 3:15pm – Netsourcing session, music & liturgy N09
— 12/1 7:00pm – National Youth Ministry Award introduction
— 12/2 8:00pm – Youth Ministry Extravaganza
— 12/3 8:00am – Music Ministry for Daily Mass
— 12/3 2:15pm – Part of Great Ideas workshop

And of course in the exhibit hall when it’s open. Check your program books for more details. Hope to say hi to many friends old and new!

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!

You Can Make A Difference!


The map below highlights (in blue) all of the places Oddwalk has been over the years. Some of those states look sooo lonely dressed all in white. They’re bummed because we’ve never been there. Some of the highlighted states are “blue” because we haven’t been back there in a while.

If you’re looking to cheer up a few sad and lonely states, just follow this link: http://oddwalkministries.com/oddblog/contact-us/ 

Shannon’s Top Ten of 2011


Well, here ends another great year for Oddwalk Ministries. We had the opportunity to bring what we do to a lot of great places: Granite City, IL – Toledo, Ohio – Mascoutah, IL – Breese, IL – Belleville, IL – Davenport, IA – Washington DC – Buffalo, NY – Fairview Heights, IL – Hazelwood, MO…

Catholic Schools Week 2011: By The Numbers


Mostly due to the colossal blizzard that swept across the country, here’s a statistical wrap-up of our Catholic Schools Week in Toledo and Metro-East St. Louis: Shows successfully performed: 3 of 9 Flights rebooked: 4 States we visited, not expecting to: 2 (Indiana, Michigan) States we didn’t visit, expecting to: 1 (Texas) Airlines flown unexpectedly:…

CSW Recap, with “Bring It Jesus” photo!


What a Crazy Catholic Schools Week!  8 appearances (2 included mass) over 5 days, from Jefferson City MO to Breese, IL and various stops in-between. Perhaps the strangest day was Thursday, when Orin’s keyboard went completely dead 5 minutes into our second concert of the day.  Pretty much without warning, and would not turn back…