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Speaking out: Thank God for my community

By  Abigail St. Pierre, Speaking Out
  • September 13, 2018

Two years ago, I started volunteering at my church’s youth group. My role was to teach the students, mentor them and listen to them. 

Throughout the first few weeks, I was able to personally get to know all of the kids. They got used to being around me and the other leaders, and it got to the point where they were able to talk to us about anything. 

There was one boy in the group who would goof around with his friends and talk to people, but he was also one of the few who seemed to be genuinely listening. I never thought anything of it until one day he came up to me and asked to talk privately. 

We went into another room and he seemed nervous. It was like he wanted to say something, but couldn’t. He told me he had heard about the group through his brother and he wanted to come but was scared that his parents wouldn’t let him. 

He explained that either his neighbour drove him each week or he rode his bike. It made a lot of sense since I’d been there every week and hadn’t met his parents. 

The boy also told me he was confused because he would learn about his faith when he was with us, but when he was at home, it seemed as though it all just went to waste.

I constantly think about the boy’s story. It is so important for youth to feel comfortable enough to discuss their faith with those around them. A young person’s faith has a lot to do with the community that surrounds them. I would know.

For as long as I can remember, I have always gone to church. My mom and I would meet my grandparents and my aunt every Sunday but I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until the past few years when I began to realize how much of an impact my faith had on my life. 

About two years ago, a new assistant priest was assigned to my parish. He made a connection with the youth throughout our parish and began creating amazing opportunities for us all. He became not only a mentor for the youth in Sault Ste. Marie, but a friend as well. 

His arrival marked the start of my involvement in the youth group. 

I started to understand that I wasn’t just going to church for the sake of it, but I was there to make a connection with myself, the parish community and God. 

When I met this boy, I began to understand how much the community really affects you. The youth group community was all this boy had to express his faith. 

Everyone needs opportunities to express their faith in different ways with the people who surround them. 

We all need someone to listen and offer advice when we are struggling with our faith or help us when we need to build it up. Be that person for someone else.

(St. Pierre, 16, is a Grade 11 student at St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste Marie, Ont.)

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