Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth hosted a New Year’s Eve dinner and dance for young adults (age 19-39) who wanted to celebrate with fellow faith-filled Catholics. Photo by Michael Romen

Toronto youth celebrate faith-filled New Year’s Eve

By  Michael Romen, Youth Speak News
  • January 9, 2019

Ringing in the New Year looked very different for a group of 20-somethings at St. Edward the Confessor Church in Toronto. 

As one half of the group of young adults were counting down to 2019 in the church hall, the other half sat in Adoration in the front pews of the church. 

It was all part of the first-ever New Year’s Eve dinner and dance hosted by the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth (OCY). Eighty-five young adults, aged 19-39, came together at the North York parish for an evening filled with prayer, food and friends. 

“It’s important that our faith and lives come together and the party was that idea that brought our lives together,” said Sarah Rodrigues, OCY associate director of young adult ministry. “I think there are many ways to explore God and our faith, and the most common idea is in catechesis and prayer.”

For $60 per ticket, the evening began at 5 p.m. with a Saturday vigil Mass followed by dinner. OCY director Fr. Frank Portelli led a reflection on the Jan. 1 feast day of Mary, Mother of God before the dance went into full swing.

Adoration was also available throughout the night. A steady trickle of people left the pulse of the music throughout the night to spend a minute of quiet with the Blessed Sacrament. 

“The party was a great way to ring in the New Year with other young Catholics,” said Samantha Cameron of Mississauga and a second-year student at Brock University.  “It was great to just dance the night away with friends and the people who became friends by the end of the night.”

Rodrigues said the idea began more than a year ago when she pitched the idea to a group of missionaries from Toronto she led on the annual OCY mission to Yellowknife, N.W.T. As she began to ask other young adult groups in the archdiocese, Rodrigues realized there was a desire for young Catholics in Toronto to celebrate their faith together for the new year. 

There is a tendency for people to separate their Church lives and “normal” lives, Rodrigues said. The New Year’s event, she said, let the men and women of the diocese let loose. 

“It was an opportunity that wasn’t too expensive or would not compromise their Catholic values,” she said. 

There was a running joke on the dance floor that people should be mindful of keeping enough room for the Holy Spirit between them and their partners. The DJ played 1990s and early 2000s throwbacks during dinner, which was catered by Holy Family Parish’s Stars Kitchen Catering. 

All proceeds of the dance, including the cash bar, went to ShareLife and Canadian Hearts and Hands: A Mission Without Borders.

(Romen, 24, is a third-year English and Classics student at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. )

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