Jesus Youth Canada has many ministries, including its music ministry. Photo courtesy of Boban Mathews

Jesus Youth Canada ‘Called’ to serve

By 
  • August 8, 2014

TORONTO - Everyone has a calling, says Boban Mathews, and Jesus Youth Canada helps young people find theirs.

Mathews is the national coordinator of JYC, an organization with international roots, which is celebrating 10 years in Canada. Jesus Youth originated in Karala, India, in 1984. At the time, the movement consisted of mainly college students who gathered for praise and worship. From there, it spread across India through schools and colleges. Mathews’ wife, Luna, was an active member in her youth.

In 2002, leaders from Karala came to Toronto to attend World Youth Day. The Rex band from JY performed on the mainstage at Downsview Park, and would go on to perform at subsequent World Youth Days in Madrid, Spain, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But a spark was lit in Toronto and Mathews and his wife invited two other families to pray with them in their home. Three families grew to four and beyond, and so the local group moved its meetings to a school auditorium.

“Before we knew it, we were in four or five provinces in Canada,” said Mathews.

Today, JYC is active in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

JY specializes in fellowship where “everybody’s welcome, nobody’s a stranger,” he said. “Right now we are working in different pockets in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and all different parts of the country. So the national conference is the time where we all gather as Jesus Youth members and well-wishers so that we have a national feeling, a common feeling to bring everybody together.”

JYC will celebrate its inaugural national conference on Aug. 15-17 at the John Paul II Cultural Centre in Mississauga. Cardinal Thomas Collins will celebrate the closing Mass. The conference is titled “Called.”

“We are called to be missionary evangelizers,” said Mathews. “The theme of Jesus Youth is a missionary movement at the service of the Church. So everybody has a calling.”

The theme is based on Isaiah 6:8: “Here I am. Send me.”

“When young people approach JYC with interest in joining the movement and its faith formation, the group tells them that everyone has a charism, a gift or a talent and invites them to pray and reflect.

“We make a platform for them to find out who they are,” said Mathews, adding that some take longer to discover their gift and for others it happens right away. If someone’s gift is to be a musician, he says, they can use music to evangelize.

The most important thing in JYC, he added, is “the youth evangelizing the youth.”

Mathews goes on to stress that wherever you are, you can become a missionary.

“You can be a missionary at your own house or among your friends,” he said. “If I can take one step closer to Christ... I can pull somebody with me.”

JYC members can choose between a one-month or one-year mission trip. The latter includes three weeks intense training in Thailand. JYC also offers a variety of other formation and training programs, including but not limited to leadership training, discipleship training and the master building program.

“Each person, we tell them as a Christian, as a Catholic, you need to grow in Christ, (in) your faith,” said Mathews. “Just like the Church is universal, the movement is universal.”

Over the years, JYC has expanded its ministries beyond young people. Currently, its ministries are categorized as intercession, health care, prayer and outreach, youth and young adult (university-age, unmarried), teens, Christines (younger children) and music. After the conference, Mathews hopes JYC Canada will include a family of ministry.

For more information on the JYC national conference, visit www.calledconference.com.

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