Scarboro Missions continues plans for youth component

By 
  • March 16, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - An attempt to connect youth with missionary work abroad has been put on hold as Scarboro Missions in Toronto re-evaluates its goals and financial abilities.

Scarboro Missions hired a youth liaison employee several months ago, but as Scarboro Missions identified a greater need for travel, the employee decided to pursue interests that would keep him closer to home.

Fr. Jack Lynch, superior general of Scarboro Missions, said the setback of losing its youth liaison has not changed feelings about the project.

“I’m very much committed to it,” he said. “We do want to see ourselves working more with youth.”

The recent global financial crisis and diminishing donors have made Scarboro Missions more cautious, but not any less enthusiastic, said Fr. Mike Traher, overseer of the youth initiative.

“Our concept of having someone as a youth liaison is something we would like to see — someone who would help us connect ourselves with young adults across Canada, someone who has just graduated, who has an interest with youth and an interest in evangelization,” Traher said.

“We really want to connect with universities, promote what we do in Scarboro among young adults, create ways to connect with youth today, basically travel across Canada to find ways to engage youth in the discussion of evangelization and missions abroad.”

Because Scarboro Missions has normally offered missionary opportunities that last up to three years, with a four-month preparation program, Traher said it is starting to look at other options, as youth tend not to commit more than a few months at a time. In the past, the Scarboros have had to direct interested youth to other organizations for missionary opportunities.

“We know three years sounds like an eternity (for youth) and we would like to see them become deeply involved, so we are looking at ways we can prepare them and send them,” he said.

Currently, Scarboro Missions connect with young people in Toronto by offering retreats to high school students, but these focus more on ecumenical and interfaith issues that tie into the Grade 11 Christianity and Culture course.

“We would like to create interest and find out how we can help young people to become involved in evangelization,” Traher said.

Part of that might be to give youth a few months of experience working with Scarboro Missions in Africa, Thailand, Brazil, Ecuador, the Philippines or even China, depending on their interest and abilities.

He said the Scarboros also wish to make students more aware of what it means to be a missionary today. What youth might not understand is that being a missionary can also simply mean going to work abroad for a year, to teach English for example, but becoming involved with the community’s parish and becoming a living example of faith for others, especially in areas where it might be more dangerous to self-identify as a Catholic missionary.

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