Ryan and Christopher Cutler will be missionaries over the next year, urging U.S. Catholic youths to form a relationship with Jesus and embrace the life of the church. (Courtesy Ryan and Christopher Cutler)
Ryan and Christopher Cutler will be missionaries over the next year, urging U.S. Catholic youths to form a relationship with Jesus and embrace the life of the church. (Courtesy Ryan and Christopher Cutler)
Two brothers from a Central Point Catholic family have left Oregon to serve as lay missionaries to the youth of the United States.

Ryan and Christopher Cutler left Oregon in early August for formation with National Evangelization Teams. The Minnesota-based nonprofit trains young adults to challenge middle schoolers and teens to love Christ and embrace the life of the Catholic Church.

The Cutlers will join Catholic men and women ages 18-28 who travel to parishes and schools throughout the year, playing games, forming friendships and witnessing to how the Gospel calls for a radical life of other-centered love.

The men are undergoing five weeks of training in Minnesota with about 140 other young adults. They will be split into teams to travel the country. All told, the missionaries are expected to reach about 60,000 youths in the next year.

“I never thought of serving as a missionary before this,” said Christopher, 19. “I was going to go to college. But that didn’t seem attractive anymore.”

Last year, he walked into Ryan’s house and wondered aloud about joining NET. Ryan urged him to do it, and he was accepted.

Ryan, 21, later heard his younger brother speak in glowing terms about NET, but was not attracted to the life until Christopher and his team stayed at the Cutler home earlier this year. “I got to pray with them and see how a NET team lives on a daily basis,” Ryan said. “It was inspiring.”

This year, Ryan joined up. “I have always wanted to go on a mission trip to another country,” he said. “I had never thought of a domestic mission or this kind of evangelization.”

Ryan had been studying marketing and working for his father, who owns a mobile medical service business. He expects to return to business life, but with a new sense of discipleship. Christopher, who felt so fulfilled that he signed on for a second year of NET, hopes to become an audio engineer and musician.

The men, two of six Cutler siblings, were homeschooled. The family attends Sacred Heart Parish in Medford, where the children have been altar servers.

Christopher said it is ideal that the missionaries are just a bit older than the teens they meet. That grabs attention of young people who are looking for role models and pondering how to live.

The retreats include a time of extended prayer when young people tend to speak what is on their hearts. Christopher recalls one teen in Minnesota who was closed off and quiet at first but who wept as Christopher prayed over him.

“You think they didn’t get anything out of it, but when they speak in prayer you know they did,” Christopher said. “At other times, you may never see the fruit. You just hope the seed is planted and gets watered.”

NET began in 1981 and is endorsed by the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Other members of Sacred Heart Parish have been NET ministers and are now successful adult Catholics, said Father Ken Sampson, pastor in Medford. He said the ministry reinforces something he keeps trying to teach parishioners.

“I speak with our community about that level of sacrifice and trust in the Lord,” the priest said. “And to be generous with your time.”