Youth outreach team begins in St. Boniface

By 
  • June 6, 2008

{mosimage}There’s a new youth evangelization training program springing up out of Manitoba. The organizers, who are still accepting applications for the fall, said it includes components that liken it to other evangelization ministries like Catholic Christian Outreach and National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries, but with distinct elements.

“It’s a bit different in that the team will see what goes into the part of a youth minister,” said organizer Jude Gosselin. “People who’ve been on the team will have seen all the aspects of it and will be hireable as youth ministers.”

This means that besides hosting Catholic youth events in parishes, the Catholic Outreach Team will also learn about the administrative office work and promotional work required to run parish youth events successfully.

During the eight months, participants will live in community at the Catholic School of Evangelization (CSE) in St. Malo, Man., an old convent converted 16 years ago into a centre for hosting summer camps and seasonal retreats.

The team will receive constant training and spiritual direction from a local priest.

The team of four to eight youth will need to travel about 45 minutes to the two participating parishes in the archdiocese of St. Boniface in Manitoba, where it will run retreat-style, youth group-style and social event-style ministries. Gosselin hopes to also involve the team in community outreach projects.

Gosselin said he has been volunteering at retreats and events with the CSE since he was 12 and served as a youth minister in Lorette, Man., for six years before completing his Bachelor of Education and returning to the CSE to run a two-year retreat ministry. He took on the position of general director May 1.

He said it was important for the CSE to develop a program that would offer the diocese continuity and fresh resources, which wasn’t happening.

“I thought is was important that the school not add programs without a clear vision,” he said. “And our board of directors is 100 per cent behind us.”

Gosselin will co-direct the Catholic Outreach Team with the help of associate directors Lia Kowalksi and Christine Sevi.

Each of the team’s youth participants will need to raise $2,000 to help cover their personal costs, and both parishes will be asked to contribute about $7,500 to help cover the costs of operation.

Gosselin said the idea for the project blossomed because of continuing requests from parishes in the archdiocese of St. Boniface for the CSE to host retreats or other events, for which Gosselin could not always guarantee trained volunteers.

“When asked about youth ministry, a lot of parishes say they don’t know where to begin or they can’t afford it,” he said. “In my opinion, if it’s a priority, you’ll do it and we’re hoping this program will encourage more parishes to see it as a priority.”

The team’s web site advertises that the ministry will lead youth “to discover the richness of the Catholic” faith, “challenge them to a personal relationship with God,” “equip and support other Catholics for the essential work of evangelization” and help them to “grow personally in love, service and knowledge through community life and continued formation.”

Gosselin is still accepting and reviewing applications. For more information, visit www.outreachteam.ca.

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