Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) is a Roman Catholic Movement of spirituality whose goal is to offer older youth and young adults an experience of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus.
The Movement began in the Catholic Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, in 1965. In the afterglow of Vatican II, the fresh new vision of the Church and the centrality of the Paschal Mystery inspired Father Mathew Fedewa to design a retreat experience which would bring into clear focus the essentials of the faith for seniors in high school and young adults. The initiative for his work came out of an adult faith community who wished to share with their youth the spiritual experience they had had as adult believers in the Cursillo movement.
The TEC Weekend is a 3-day course on the essentials of our faith, and centered on the Easter story.
1st day : "Die day", Christ's Death, Lent.
2d day : "Arise day", Resurrection, Easter.
3d day : "Go day", Mission, Pentecost.
"Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (Jn 12:24)
The TEC experience involves an adult faith community who invite youth into their midst to share with them their life in Christ. All of the witness talks (meditations) are given by adults except the "Growth and Ideals" and the "Young Christian as Disciple" talks. Time for discussion by table groups, songs, music, etc. are interspersed with the reception of Sacraments.
The friendship experienced during the weekend is prolonged afterward with a group of people who have shared the same experience, and are there to support each other in their life in Christ.
A National TEC Conference was created in 1981 to provide the TEC Movement with a monitoring agency and to aid local centers in their functioning and development An Official Manual was published in 1997. Following its publication, training workshops were offered for its implementation to all affiliated centers entitled "Renewing the Vision of TEC"
Today, TEC is a widely spread multi-national Movement monitored by the TEC Conference in the United States. Over the years, TEC spread to other Christian communities, such as the Lutherans and Anglicans, some of which are affiliated with the TEC Conference. It is estimated that several hundred thousand youth and young adults have been engaged in the TEC Movement.
Some TEC Centers (for ex.: Central Minnesota TEC, Riverbend TEC, etc. ) have changed their name to "Together Encountering Christ" to better reflect the presence of teen and young adult participants on the weekends. For the same reason, elsewhere, (for ex.: Atlanta TEC, Erie TEC), the acronym TEC stands for "To Encounter Christ". But these groups are nevertheless affiliated to the TEC Conference and their operation conform to the Official Manual. Hence, the slight difference in the description of what TEC means does not mean a separate or different movement.
In the same manner, "Troops Encounter Christ" is fully affiliated
with the TEC Conference and follows the Official Manual. Also
"Handicapped Encounter Christ" is in full compliance with the
Official TEC Conference, being an adaptation of the TEC spiritual
process to the special needs of the handicapped.
However, not all TEC Centers are authenticated and promoted by
the Conference. For example, the "United Teens Encounter Christ",
of Minneapolis, has a description of TEC far different than above:
"Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) is a nondenominational, evangelical,
conservative youth ministry. The first TEC retreat hosted by Hope
Presbyterian Church was 11 years ago. Since then over 2,500
students from over 100 churches and high schools have experienced
a TEC weekend."
Such a statement is not endorsed by Janet Drey, Executive Director
of the TEC Conference, who has pointed out to us that : UNITED
TEENS ENCOUNTER CHRIST has no relationship with the TEC
Conference whatsoever. The Conference has never in any way been
involved in its formation or its operation, it is totally on its own
and may not use the term TEC to describe their operation. Any
group whose operation does not conform to the Official Manual may
not use the term TEC - Teens Encounter Christ (which is a
registered trademark) to describe their operation."
Janet Drey also added that "To imply that in some places TEC has
emerged as a truly multi-generational retreat is simply false. TEC
is intergenerational in the sense that it is a faith community of
adults who share with youth and young adults their faith life
through witness and mentoring. But to be an authentic TEC
movement, the main focus of the process must be on older youth
and young adults.