Speaking Out: Making the time for youth ministry

By  Vincent Pham, Youth Speak News
  • March 18, 2020

A year ago, I decided to take on a position at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto as a part-time sacristan. I knew this role would present new priorities, but while on the job I aimed to maintain my involvement in youth ministry at my home parish, Vietnamese Martyrs, to the best of my abilities. At that time, I was a Grade 12 student, completing high school.

One year later, I am a first-year university student working hard to adjust to a fast-paced learning environment. Even though I have an increased workload, I still attend my own parish’s youth activities and am also actively participating in other youth group events outside Vietnamese Martyrs.

There was a time two years ago that I wanted to step away from being a youth group leader. But it was precisely at that point in my life that I encountered other youth outside my home parish who found great joy in partaking in their parish’s youth ministry. I started speaking with them, and slowly I came to understand and value the impact of my own parish’s youth ministry work.

Once I started taking on the role of a sacristan at the cathedral, I vowed to continue my youth ministry work, specifically with the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM) and Youth and Young Adults Ministry (YaYA).

A typical week for me this school year is composed of 14 hours of classroom sessions, 14 hours at St. Michael’s and at least two hours of youth ministry. While I strive for one or two hours of leisure time per day, my remaining free time is often devoted to finishing papers, getting on top of course readings or studying for exams. 

There are times when I ask myself, “is the work I am doing bearing fruit? Is it helping me become closer to God? Does participating in all these activities help me become a better person, and help others around me become better people?” If I answer these questions affirmatively, I discern it to be something I should continue. I have learned that when you have a strong will to do something good, you will be able to find time for it and stop making excuses not to act.

I also find value in youth ministry because it allows me to learn and live the faith with my friends and, most importantly, find a deep sense of companionship with them.

On a deeper, spiritual level, participating in youth ministry assures me that Christ is alive. While some may say that the Church is declining in numbers, being among young people like myself assures me that the Church continues to burn bright.

While the work can become tiresome at times, seeing younger children and other youth spiritually benefitting from the time and effort that I put in alongside other youth leaders gives me a great sense of peace.

I know God has given me much, and it is my responsibility to answer and live out my vocation as a Catholic student, sacristan, youth leader and servant. I hope other Catholic youth, despite busy schedules and challenges in their academic studies, will not be hesitant to answer their call to ministry.

(Pham, 19, is a first-year humanities student at the University of Toronto.) 

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