TORONTO - Young people aren’t the future of the Church, says Andrew Santos, they are the present. 

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO - A new inspirational project has been launched by St. Benedict’s youth ministry.

Published in Youth Speak News

TORONTO - St. Bonaventure’s youth ministry is gearing up for its annual knitting event for the homeless.

Participants are taught how to knit scarves during two learning sessions, with the finished scarves returned to the youth ministry in January when they will be handed out to the homeless.

“(My office) is piled with yarn right now,” said Jonathan Nix, co-ordinator of the youth ministry at the parish. “It is crazy.”

The project started in early November 2010 as a small, one-time event. The response from many of the parish’s young people was positive, prompting the youth ministry to continue the event.

This year’s learning sessions are being held Nov. 22 and 29. After a general introduction and a prayer, participants break off into groups where one or two expert knitters — a mix of both young and older volunteers — teach the group how to knit.

Michael Johnston, a member of the youth ministry and a youth leader who participated last year, said it was an opportunity to stay connected to his community.

“I thought that it was a great way to aid those who would be cold for the winter and show compassion to others by giving out handmade scarves,” Johnston said.

“Scarves are easy to knit,” said Nix. “We basically have two sessions to teach so we can’t get too crazy complicated in that time.”

With Christmas holidays being a busy time and the varying age groups that come out to participate in the event, the youth ministry wanted to keep it simple.

“The idea is to have as many as possible to give away,” Nix said. “Last year we prepared for 50 people. Forty people showed up for the training and we received almost 70 scarves.”

This year, the youth ministry decided that the finished scarves will be given to Good Neighbours, a club in downtown Toronto for homeless men over the age of 50. It is a venue that will allow a greater opportunity for members of the ministry and the parish to spend time with the walk-ins.

For the last event, the ministry gave the scarves away during the parish’s Poverty Walk in January.

Johnston said the program “really opened my eyes to the situation of others right in our own city.” He plans on participating again this year.

“The experience of conversation can be, for a homeless person, something that they miss, that they’re just ignored on the streets or wherever they may be,” Nix said.

The event is ultimately rooted in service.

“We’re a Franciscan parish and there’s a big part of that spirituality that’s dedicated to service, and particularly direct service with the poor,” Nix said.

Reflecting on the washing of the feet from the Last Supper in John’s Gospel, he said “we need to be out there humbling ourselves and seeing God in everyone.”

Nix hopes that this promotes an understanding that “we always need to be thinking of the other” and that “it doesn’t always have to be writing a cheque,” but “it can be fun and it can be creative.”

“So often we get lost in our own lives that we lose perspective on how other people might be living,” Nix said.

“(When) we think of faith, we have to think of hope and love and... how do we express that together,” said Nix. “These types of activities — getting out, being with people, being present to others — is our faith.”

(Bernardo, 26, lives in Toronto, Ont.)

Published in Youth Speak News
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