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Young People Learn True Meaning of Happiness


St. Mark
Shoreline, Washington
United States

Parish Uses a Healing the Culture Program to Educate Its Youth

"The young people, like all of us, are products of our culture, and our culture proclaims many false messages and lies. If young people can be taught the truth, based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they will be one step ahead." Fr. W.R. Harris, pastor of St. Mark Catholic Church, Shoreline, WA

The need it meets

Fr. W.R. Harris is pastor at St. Mark parish in Shoreline, Washington. He said that he determined the program called Healing the Culture could best be used to help the young people of the parish at a time in their lives when it might have the most significant influence. "This gives them a jump start into the future so that they can avoid the pitfalls most of us experience," he said.

Where it came from

Camille Pauley, a co-founder of the program 'Healing the Culture,' is a member of Fr. Harris's parish. Her presentations focus on what it means to attain true happiness and not false worldly happiness. Pauley founded the program in 2003 with Father Robert Spitzer, past president of Gonzaga University. The programs and resources are based on the “Life Principles” curriculum created by Fr. Spitzer.

How it works

Fr. Harris was impressed with the program and the effect it could have on young people's lives. "Young people think if they just can just do this or obtain that, they will be happy," he said. "Then they obtain this or that and discover they are not happy. We all have to fill a void within us. Unless we fill that with God it will still be empty." Fr. Harris decided to offer the program on a monthly basis and rotate it with presentations on the late John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Program presentations are offered on Thursday evenings twice a month.

The Healing the Culture program used at St. Mark parish mainly involves discussing the four levels of happiness:

  • Level 1 = Physical Pleasure and Possession
  • Level 2 = Ego gratification
  • Level 3 = Love and Contribution
  • Level 4 = Faith in God

The results

About 24 students participate in the presentations at St. Mark regularly. Fr. Harris said the students preparing for Confirmation are also encouraged to attend. Some of the parents have sat in on the presentations as well and told Fr. Harris they thought the program was fantastic. One parent stated, "I've been praying for years for something like this to come to St. Mark's, Father has also heard positive feedback on what they are learning from the young people during his interviews and discussions with them.

Key elements

Healing the Culture offers many different options for presenting its material including speakers, retreats, training seminars, consulting, books, tapes, and CDs, video and DVD learning systems, workbooks, booklets and pamphlets for teens, media articles and interviews and online educational resources.

For more information on the Healing the Culture program go to

How to implement it

In the beginning, information on the program was sent to all high school students in the parish via mail and email. Flyers are placed into the bulletin the week of the classes, and posters are on display in the Church vestibule telling the presenter and the topic for the week.

W. R. Harris is pastor of St. Mark.

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