At Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens in Cambridge, Fr. Lourdy Dorismond shepherds the children. The parish has plans to increase children’s catechesis and its ties to area Catholic schools. Photo courtesy Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens Parish

Parishes in ‘One Heart’ Campaign put special focus on youth ministry

  • June 6, 2019

What’s the secret ingredient to drawing young people to parish life?

At St. Mary’s Parish in Kitchener, Ont., that ingredient may be, well, food.

A project to be funded through the parish’s participation in the Diocese of Hamilton’s One Heart, One Soul Campaign will create a new kitchen in the parish’s social hall. 

To be sure, the kitchen would have many functions and aid a variety of parish ministries. But one special vision of St. Mary’s pastor, Fr. Toby Collins, is to build a program for high school students “that is accessible, clean, lively, safe and fun.” And that vision starts with food.

“We want to bridge the gap between the young and the elderly by engaging youth in activities around food,” Collins said. 

“Through sharing something we all have in common it is inevitable that stories about faith and a common desire for community emerge and grow. Jesus reminds us that physical nourishment and spiritual nourishment go hand in hand in the story of the ‘feeding of the 5,000.’”

The parish now hosts groups of up to 80 visiting high school students, Collins said.

“They will always eat whatever we can give them, which often leads to conversations about our faith. We would like to offer fresh food in our own hall to keep them coming back and getting to know us better,” he said.

“They can also learn about how people in the downtown area sometimes go without food and how we are all called to help.”

Projects focusing on ministry to children and youth are common among parishes participating so far in the One Heart, One Soul Campaign. At least eight of the 14 parishes in the campaign’s Pilot Wave have projects planned in that area. Besides St. Mary’s in Kitchener, these are projects in parishes’ plans:

• As a parish that supports a number of feeder schools in its area, St. Ann’s in Ancaster plans to hire a part-time youth minister to help guide the next generations in their spiritual lives.

• St. Dominic in Oakville aims to secure enough funds to support the addition of a youth minister position for at least three years, giving the parish time to incorporate the new expense into its regular operating budget.

• A major project at Holy Rosary in Guelph will be the construction of a church annex that will create a pastoral formation centre. The centre will provide a new home for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a program educating young boys and girls in the faith.

• Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens in Cambridge is focusing its campaign on the needs of children and families. Among the places where funds will go are children’s catechesis on Sundays — along with special summer activities — and bolstering the parish’s ties with area Catholic schools.

• The part-time youth ministry role at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Stoney Creek will become a full-time position.

• Sacred Heart in Paris plans to use funds to build a parish hall — a hall that it hopes will increase community events at the parish and help draw families with young children from the growing Paris area.

• Blessed Sacrament in Burford has seen an increase in the number of young people and families and aims to offer programs that meet their needs.

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