Youth Speak News

{mosimage}ST. RAPHAEL’S, Ont. - Towering ruins of an 18th-century church, large white tents and a procession of the cross led by bagpipes represent for many teens the setting for “a really awesome time.”

At the roots of the English-speaking church in the province, amidst the rolling hills of St. Raphael’s (pronounced locally as St. “Raffles”), 500 teens and almost as many volunteers gather every year for an extreme boost in their faith journey. They come to attend Journey to the Father, a Catholic teen conference hosted by the diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall that features talks, workshops, adoration, Mass, the rosary, music led by The Mustard Seeds from Hanover, Ont., a talent show and more.

Cultural differences open Canadian student's eyes in Ecuador

{mosimage}It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments, standing at the base of Chimborazo, a dormant volcano, its snow-capped peak rising high above the Andes Mountains — just one of many once-in-a-lifetime experiences I had in Ecuador.

The magnificent scenery was one perk of joining 25 students from across North America to spend two-and-a-half weeks building a school with Free the Children, a charitable organization devoted to freeing children from poverty and exploitation.

Catholic teen church attendance remains steady

{mosimage}The overall picture of teens today is surprisingly positive — teens today are drinking less, smoking less and less inclined to bully each other than teens in the past 20 years — but when it comes to religion, the statistics might seem a little more puzzling, says Reginald Bibby , a sociologist from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta . A growing number of teens are less likely to identify themselves as religious, he said, but the percentage of teens attending weekly hasn’t changed.

“The thing that is concerning is the middle has dropped out,” he told The Catholic Register, referring to the group of teens who would have formerly said they weren’t sure if they believed in God, but attended church occasionally. “It’s as though Canadians just aren’t as ambivalent. It’s either yes or no and the pattern is very much the same in adults.”

Working and learning in the Andes

{mosimage}Another school year has ended, but instead of spending my summer in Florida visiting friends and family, my destination this year is a little farther south — a rural village in the Andes mountains of Ecuador.

My journey to Ecuador actually began in January 2008 when, along with 11 other students from my school, I travelled to the Dominican Republic to build houses in a small, impoverished village. To say that spending a week without running water, electricity or cell phone service was life-altering is a bit of an understatement.

Overcoming materialism

These days, it is not uncommon to find people complaining and brooding over a malfunctioning iPod or a misplaced flash drive. With our attachment to material things, either one of these minor problems could throw our entire day askew.

So, why is it that our possessions and technologies affect our happiness so much? When did we become so dependent on money and material? And when did we begin to get the notion that these things would bring us joy and satisfaction?

2010 Ottawa Youth Summit planning underway

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Planning has begun in the Ottawa archdiocese to host the 2010 Youth Summit/Montée Jeunesse next May 21-24.

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J.,  said he has great confidence in the direction the youth leaders will provide after a preliminary brainstorming session June 20. He noted the conference will takes place over Victoria Day weekend and coincides with Pentecost next year. It is expected to draw hundreds of youth up to age 35 to the nation’s capital.

Finding faith, meaning in the workplace

Faith plays a central role in a lot of the decisions we make, including our career choices. Common questions we ask might include, “What brings meaning to my life?” or “What is God’s purpose for me on this Earth?”

Many youth want a job that enables them to live out their faith on a daily basis. But the challenge is not in finding a job that lets you live your faith but rather in enabling yourself to live your faith in any job. Ever since I graduated from high school, I have worked in a number of different jobs that have provided me with many experiences and growing pains. What I discovered along the way is that I like to help people and in doing so, I developed myself as a servant leader.

Finding a funeral's beauty

Recently, I was able to interview a family that was donating a large amount of money to a school in memory of their teenage son who died in a terrible car wreck in February. Tears came to the eyes of his father as soon as he stepped into the room to talk to me, and later, after they’d made their presentation, this couple held each other and cried in front of me and two teachers.

India trip opens Toronto students' eyes

{mosimage}TORONTO - Two students from Blessed Mother Teresa High School in Scarborough got to follow in the footsteps of their school’s namesake this year as they joined nine other students in a trip to India.

The students visited missionary projects run by the Loretto Sisters and visited locations that had strong ties to Blessed Mother Teresa, who was a Loretto Sister before she founded the Missionaries of Charity. The first-time trip was made in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Lorettos.

Sherbrooke youth to host four-day faith event

{mosimage}Famille Marie Jeunesse will welcome 300 youth to join them for its 20th Youth Council — a bilingual weekend of prayer, skits, teachings and more, taking place June 26-29.

Famille Marie-Jeunesse is a movement of lay and consecrated young people living in community in Sherbrooke, Que. The community follows a Marian and eucharistic spirituality and is one of five similar households around the world.

Teen Bible study focuses on Jean Vanier

{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.