The Office of Youth Ministry is hoping a pilot project will help draw First Nations Youth closer to God, and closer to each other while offering them leadership skills to serve their people today and into the future. The pastors of the First Nation Reserves in southern Alberta met this year on several occasions with pastoral staff and members of the Mission Council who strongly supported the idea of a camp experience for First Nation Youth. The camp was held at Camp Columbus, the Knights of Columbus Camp in Waterton, National Park. A perfect backdrop to wonderful week.
Diocesan Youth Retreat Team (DYRT) coordinator Wesley Raymundo, directed the camp pilot project. He was working with the DYRT members, and religious sisters from the Seeds of the Word, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), and the Daughters of Mary Mother of the Church (DM) as they reached out to 13 high school youth from the Blood Reserve at Standoff, and the Piikani Reserve at Brocket. Youths were offered an experience of fun and faith over the five days, and together they laughed, played games, took part in skits, celebrated Mass, went horse backing riding, took short hikes, made crafts, prayed and sang songs.
Fr. Long Vu from the Siksika Nation in Cluny assisted at the camp as Chaplain for the five-day camp. One of Fr. Long Vu’s parishioners, Kelsey Solway, visited the camp and was encouraged by what she saw. She would like to be more involved next year, and bring some youth from the Siksika Reserve at Cluny. Kelsey shared:
“What I hope is that next year we are able to send more children to St. Kateri from Holy Trinity Parish in Siksika. Fr. Long expressed how important it was for our youth to be involved with building a relationship within the Catholic church and to become more involved. St. Kateri camp is a great way to foster those relationships. I was very impressed and cannot wait to attend next year. We hope that this is an annual event and I hope we can help more of our First Nations youth attend.”
First Nation youth, are not unlike youth in our cities and countryside who are longing for meaning and purpose in their lives. They desire to have fun, and experience God’s presence in their midst. As a diocese, we share a responsibility to reach out to the youth on our Reserves, and to communicate the Good News with them. Building community and relationships by our words and deeds speaks of God’s transforming love of peace and reconciliation, and is part of our mission as Catholics.
The youth who attended the camp came away feeling loved and part of a bigger family, and they were encouraged to be examples to others, to “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” [1 Tim: 4]. Selina Young Pine, from the Blood Reserve made sure prior to camp that she told everyone that, “at camp we are family, brothers and sisters.” She was not disappointed when she reflected, “From this camp I have gained more faith, and strength in Jesus, and I am humbled to say that I am a child of God.” Janelle Many Bears, told us that she “loves her new holy family.”
Taila Big Throat of the Blood Reserve summed up her experience by saying: “I really enjoyed coming to this camp; it was very nice meeting everyone and getting to know everyone, and most of all sharing each and everyone’s stories about faith. I really loved how everyone was Catholic and we all love and share in our God.”
Justin Lang, one of the counsellors for the week commented that “he had gained an incredible experience which was getting to know the youth, and being able to see them grow in their faith and really bond together with each other and with counselors to become more of a family.”
Let us continue to shape what has begun. Together we can build a civilization of love, and transform the communities that make up our diocese. We cannot just talk about what is possible, but we must have the courage to get involved, and take action going forth to make a difference. As the youth step forward and are encouraged in their faith they too will be formed as leaders who reflect the Gospel message in their lives, helping to transform the communities that they have grown up in, and also the world itself. St. Kateri is quoted as saying, “Who will teach me what is most pleasing to God, that I may do it?” May we do our part to reach out to the youth on the Reserves, and help to strengthen their faith.
The Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry is here to serve youth and whose working with youth in your diocese with Direction, Guidance and Collaboration.
Our Office offers resources, information, and support: Our intention is to provide a comprehensive ministry to all our youth and young adults, aged 6-35. These are some of the resources and programs that are a part of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Our Office offers resources, information, and support:
Our intention is to provide a comprehensive ministry to all our youth and young adults, aged 6-35. These are some of the resources and programs that are a part of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
by Ryan Factura, for the Youth Ministry Office
In his classic work The Screwtape Letters, the great Christian author C. S. Lewis tells us that the devil takes us away from God, not so much by putting things into our lives, but instead by drowning God's voice out of our consciousness through endless distractions. More than half a century after its publication, the message strikes our core ever deeper.
For a young person, it can be tough living out our faith from day to day. In our media-saturated culture, it is almost impossible for us to miss the daily dose of conformity that society serves us. Sometimes jealousy, doubt, and fear might occupy our hearts more than our faith does.
But, Jesus knows this. He tells His followers to be careful that their hearts do not become weighed down from the worries of daily life [cf. Luke 21:34].
Society calls us to fit in, whereas God calls His children to stand out. What a remarkable sight it is when His children do stand out as one. As a church, we do not go on our faith journey alone – we help each other, together.
In our diocese, we are blessed to have the opportunity to see this happen among young people every year through the One Rock festival. It goes beyond just music and games – above all, it is a festival of faith.
It is where the young people celebrate a life found on Jesus Christ, and live out the joy that comes with it. In the words of St. John Paul II, \""We are the Easter people, and hallelujah is our song!\""
In spite of everything that is going on around us, One Rock continues to be a sign of God's promise to St. Peter manifested in our young people that \""the gates of Hades will not prevail\"" against the Church that He Himself built. Now, that's a sure foundation.
A couple of years ago, I experienced One Rock for the first time. Everything was great, but one thing happened that I will never forget. Right before the opportunity to participate in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, that year's headlining act, the amazingly talented Audrey Assad performed. And after her moving and beautiful set, there was no wild cheering. No encore. She just slipped backstage with her band, and the procession of the Blessed Sacrament began. Miss Assad had been the opening act for the \""Main Act,\"" so to speak. That, for me, was the highlight of One Rock 2013. A highlight that, in spite of all of life's distractions, two years later I can still fondly remember the profoundness of the event.
Below is a selection of Outreach Opportunities supported and promoted by the Office of Youth Ministry.
"We work with the Diocesan parishes, Catholic school divisions, university and college chaplains, as well as with other Church agencies and outside groups to better serve our youth."
Catholic Christian Outreach
"A young and dynamic movement of university students and lay missionaries present on university campuses across Canada. Every day on university campuses we proclaim the message of Jesus Christ in a clear and simple way, with a constant emphasis on building leaders for the renewal of our world! "
Website : www.ccocanada.ca
"Catholic Woodstock of Alberta"
Website : www.onerock.ca
The findings of the Synod with regards to Youth Ministry at the Diocesan and Parish level are as follows:
At a Diocesan Level
- Youth Ministry is valued at a Diocesan level.
- Youth Ministry should receive adequate monies and resources to serve the needs of youth within the Diocese.
- Youth Ministry is valued at the Parish level.
- Each Parish Pastoral Council should have a youth representative in its ranks.
- A team will be trained to facilitate to facilitate training of youth teams at the Parish level and to implement days of retreat.
- There will be trained Youth Ministers throughout the entire Diocese.
- Consensus throughout the Diocese regarding a spirituality/philosophy of Youth Ministry will be sought.
- There will be increased dialogue and liaising with our Catholic schools and institutions; particularly with our lay chaplains.
At a Parish Level
- Further Liturgical involvement of our young people of Confirmation age and upwards will be sought.
- Regular gathering of young people of a spiritual and social nature will be further encouraged.
- Youth should be empowered to grow in faith and participate in the life of the parish.
- Youth will be represented on the Parish Pastoral Council.
- Programs are to be inclusive of youth and their families.
- No one spirituality of Youth Ministry will be espoused.
- The parish should be committed to Youth Ministry at every level: financing, volunteers, facilities, etc.
- Youth are to be involved in the total life of the Parish, e.g. RCIA, help with sacramental preparation, social justice projects, outreach programs, children's Liturgy programs, etc.
- Youth are not a labour pool to be exploited, but have real gifts and skills to share.
- Increased recognition that our youth are predominantly present in our Catholic schools and consequently there should be a strong liaison between parishes and schools through the pastors, pastoral assistants, youth ministry coodinators, or an appointed volunteer.
- Those involved in Youth Ministry represent those faith-filled individuals with the theological, social, recreational, and organizational skills necessary to implement meaningful, sustainable Comprehensive and Collaborative Youth Ministry.