Our young people in the Parish are not only moving mountains in school by joining various
groups like CAFOD and the Saint Vincent De Paul Society (SVP); they are also showing off
their strengths and their talents in the Parish. Our Parish has now a Youth Parish Group
which meets once a month in school and, hopefully soon, in the Parish Centre. The group
has nine Year 11 students who had made their Confirmation two years ago. They have
already helped with a few fundraising events in the Parish and raising funds for the Youth
Stay tuned as in the New Year they will be organising and helping with a youth concert to show off all the musical talent in Otley and towns close by. Their enthusiasm and excitement is infectious as other students are wanting to be part of the group in the New Year. We are hoping that this summer we will have some of our Confirmation candidates from May 2015 joining Helen Kington and Leeds Diocese on the Lourdes Pilgrimage. This will be a great opportunity for our young people to travel with their School and help with sick pilgrims. It will also be an opportunity to explore their own faith and spirituality further. They will be able to process in the Candlelight Procession, carry a banner or two and also experience the refreshing and calming atmosphere in the baths.
Some events that our young people are taking part in over the next few months are:
1) SVP Christmas Choir and Collection in Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre on 11th and 12th of December.
2) Kirkstall World Religions celebration day on 19th of December.
It is wonderful to journey with the young people as they take part in many activities and are looking forward to more events to come.
LOURDES 2015 - "Go to the spring, drink of it and wash yourself there".
Lourdes 2015 was once again a magical experience.
I had the pleasure of Journeying with forty two young people as they explored their faith and with five incredible staff members. We made our Journey to Lourdes on the 2nd of July and returned filled with Mary’s love and grace on the 10th. The young people really enjoyed caring for their sick pilgrims, helping and praying with them at various Masses and the torch light procession. As a group they also had the opportunity to entertain their pilgrims and other schools at a great garden party event. This was a chance for the young people to make new friends and time to socialise with everyone. On the hottest day in Lourdes we ventured to Hosanna House and Bartres where we had our discipleship walk. The young people reflected on their relationship with Jesus and having the time to be close with him. They also realised that it is ok to have a relationship with Christ and he accepts us for who we are. The young people also walked the same footsteps as Bernadette to where she reflected at the Sheepfold on a day to day basis.
Some of the young people said,
‘I felt calm during the walk, it was quiet’
‘It made me think about Mary and why we pray to her’
Not only being busy with their pilgrims and reflecting together as a group they had the honour to lead the torchlight procession with the entire Leeds Diocese. They processed with school and diocese banners and sang and prayed together along the way.
One young person said,
‘I felt I had a huge responsibility as everyone was watching but enjoyed being part of it’
‘I made new friends from being part of the banner procession, I felt really involved and it was cool’.
Lourdes was an uplifting, positive and most importantly a prayerful week. I am grateful and blessed that I can journey with these young people for the week as they start to reflect and ask important questions about where they are with their own faith and beliefs. I had the chance to speak to young people that I may not see during the school term and most importantly witness their transformation and watch them flourish. Lourdes had ignited each young person, they have more confidence in taking on roles in Mass and they understand and can follow the Mass even if it is said in another language. They are hoping in year 11 they can do more in school that is faith based as Lourdes has given them the tools to do so.
Flame2 - National Youth Congress, 2015.
A number of us from the parish travelled to Wembley on the 7th March, and we had a fantastic day. Over 8000 young people attended. We had lots of fun spending time with the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal and having the time for praise and worship.
Youth Ministry is most importantly a declaration of gifts, faith and fresh new ideas from young people.
It is a Christ-centred ministry and a call for young people to feel welcome in a parish community. It is also a call to go out and live like a true disciple of Jesus Christ. This role by no means works in isolation but instead enables me to journey with young people in every aspect of their lives. School plays a huge part in every young person’s life - therefore I spend time working in St Mary's and also in St Joseph’s primary school. I am able to witness the transition of Year 6 as they journey into secondary school, and every Friday afternoon I work closely with Year 6 with their daily collective worship. We explore the seasons of Advent and Lent. We also have group discussions on how we depend on God and how to be a good disciple of Christ. I also have the pleasure of working with all year groups in St Mary’s School, Menston. I work in St Mary’s two days a week where I visit year groups during RE lessons. My collective worship sessions or my assemblies are an exciting and fun method to get the young people thinking about Lent, Advent or everyday questions about faith.
As well as in school, I am also a presence in the Parish. The Sacrament of Confirmation programme is an important part of the parish. Not only does this programme prepare them for being confirmed, it is also a journey for beyond the sacrament. There are six sessions divided over seven months from November until May when the ceremony takes place. We have group discussions on how to be witnesses of Christ, what can we do in our community, home and school to make a difference? We look at the importance of prayer and explore the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is also a time to spend with friends and make new friendships.
It is not only a fun learning experience for the young people but it is a learning experience for me also.
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