Teen Bible study focuses on Jean Vanier

By  Nicholas Carafa, The Catholic Register
  • June 12, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - L’Arche Canada has published a youth Bible study to inspire teens and help them find their calling in life.

Exploring Your Future: A Youth Bible Study with Jean Vanier aims to help teens counter the bad influences that can throw them off the path to success.

“The youth of today are the adults of tomorrow,” said Jessica Vorstermans, an educational initiatives facilitator for L’Arche Canada, based in Toronto.

L’Arche is an international organization that creates communities for people with and without developmental disabilities to live and work together.

Vorstermans believes youth are being alienated from their faith and their churches. And Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, acknowledges that there should be more resources available to help youth find the right path. Drugs, gangs or peer pressure are among the dangers facing youth today. The Bible study is meant to help counter these influences and provide a sought after resource.

“Youth sometimes ask big questions, and the study shows a way to answer these questions,” said Amy Bunce, an Anglican minister in Saskatoon and a member of the L’Arche community. Bunce played a key role in developing the study guide.

“It presents an invitation to find yourself.”

John Dawson,  program co-ordinator and music director of the Office of Catholic Youth of the Toronto archdiocese, said they had bought a few copies soon after it came out this spring.

“I think it’s valuable for generating discussion and could be very valuable as a complimentary resource,” Dawson said.

The interactive study has eight different study sessions with a common focus on the Beatitudes. It includes a leader’s guide written by Bunce, a DVD called Choosing your Future, a short video of students in conversation with Vanier and a series of audio clips from his CBC Massey Lectures, Becoming Human, as well as action and quotation cards. Aimed at youth 14-18, this package is recommended for church youth groups or institutional programs.

L’Arche and Vanier hope to reach out to young people by encouraging them to chase their dreams. A common theme of belonging is portrayed throughout the study, helping youth create a world where no one is segregated based on physical traits and differences.

Each of the study’s sessions contain a quotation from Vanier which engage the group in questioning the session’s theme, a Scripture passage to be read aloud and induce thought about the passage, action ideas to prepare insight for the upcoming week and a going deeper segment for older youth so that they may grasp the more challenging ideas from the CBC Massey Lectures, and more.

“A lot of people want to know who he truly is,” said Bunce of Vanier. “He is an inspirational man who was shaped by his faith; a true inspiration.”

Vanier and L’Arche have worked with youth in the past, creating a student-based web site, www.friendsofjeanvanier.ca , which was designed to assist youth in integrating the lessons learned from L’Arche into their everyday lives.

The Bible study is available for $15 at www.larche.ca or through L’Arche Daybreak Books and Media at pubs@larchedaybreak.com or by calling (905) 884-3454 ext. 234.

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