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Thursday, 19 May 2022 16:02

New Catholic adventure apostolate to help families grow in their family bond and faith life

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05 29 2022 tree climbing Mercy TreeBy Andrew Hansen
EDITOR 

Families looking for a unique Catholic adventure that combines scripture, prayer, and climbing in nature’s beauty now have an opportunity to do so in Central Illinois. Mercy Tree Adventures, which launched this spring, is taking families to new heights literally and spiritually. 

“Adventure isn’t a part of life that we grow out of or benefit by leaving behind us,” said Carlos Tejeda, who co-founded Mercy Tree Adventures with his wife, Elena, and who are parishioners at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. “When properly understood, adventure is actually part of God’s plan for living a fully human life – and it’s an ingredient in how one matures as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Events like these are important because they help strike the right balance of calculated risk for the sake of growth while in real, not fabricated, relationship. When was the last time your family smiled, laughed, worked, prayed, and talked together without screens, comfort, and consumption being prominent? Come check out what gets sparked in your heart, mind, and soul when you’re trusting your family, surrounded by the majesty of creation and vulnerable before God!”

Mercy Tree Adventures specializes in technical tree climbing, using ropes and harnesses, like arborists do, but the kinds of adventures don’t stop at tree climbing. They also facilitate rappelling in caves, go-kart racing, radio-controlled car challenge courses, jet-skiing, kayaking, hiking, relay races, geocaching, digging pits, marksmanship, paintball, bonfires, explosives, directional tree felling, and log splitting. Tejeda says the point of these activities is to make it easy for a man to extend or receive an invitation from a friend or acquaintance that he respects, and they strive to host unique events that make men grin on their face and in their heart.  

05 29 2022 sharing scripture Mercy Tree“This opened heart stance is fertile soil for conversion to take root in a man because we foster encounters in God’s creation and read Scripture,” Tejada said. “We call it ‘Lived Lectio.’ Lectio Divina is Latin for ‘divine reading,’ the practice of prayerful meditation on sacred Scripture. Lived lectio is about encounters with God's Word so that participants become fully alive in Christ for their own sake, their spouse, children, the Church, and the world.”       

In 2019, the vision for Mercy Tree Adventures started for Tejeda, who is trained and certified to help people climb trees, has a degree in forest science, and has worked as a climbing arborist for 16 years. One verse from Scripture in particular kept popping in his mind, "Turn the hearts of fathers to their children" (Luke 1:17). The verse became a prominent part of his prayer life. Tejeda says that Mercy Tree Adventures “then became a doubling down on this promise of the Lord - namely, that everything rides on the degree to which fathers turn their hearts to their children.” 

“We started Mercy Tree Adventures in order to specialize in setting men up for success in their prayer life, married life, and family life,” Tejeda said. “We are eager to become a favorite tool in the evangelical arsenals of parishes, schools, retreat centers, fraternal organizations, seminaries, campus ministries, and homeschool coops.”

The Tejedas will drive to communities so their events are always local and accessible. They offer half-day, full-day, and weekend long events. To book an adventure, go to mercytreeadventures.org.