Youth Speak News

{mosimage}TORONTO - It’s an upbeat part of the city with proud residents, but Scarborough’s lingering reputation as a bad place makes it a little too easy to overlook the booming number of active Catholic youth in the eastern part of Toronto.

While the local news stations are busy placing emphasis on the negativity that Scarborough’s past connotes, the priests and youth ministers there are hard at work, influencing the minds of the young people and transforming Scarborough youth groups into among the most active and flourishing ones in Toronto.

Pilgrimage a spiritual journey

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When I was younger I had the chance to visit Rome to climb and pray on the Santa Scala. Tradition has it that these steps were part of the praetorium of Pilate in Jerusalem and that Jesus is thought to have climbed when he was sent to Pontius Pilate to be judged. The steps are considered to be so holy that pilgrims are asked only to ascend on their knees as a sign of respect and worship.

As a child of 12, I failed to grasp the true significance of this experience. Yet despite my minimal understanding, when I participated to the best of my ability, I was still able to feel a connection with God. To this day, it is still one of my most cherished memories as a practising Catholic. At the time I had not known that I had embarked on a pilgrimage. All I understood was a deep feeling of peace and thankfulness. When many hear the word “pilgrimage,” the image that comes to mind (and at one point, my own as well) is a journey. A time to put aside our lives and travel to a country or city which houses a significant religious landmark. Unfortunately, those who use this definition may hold the mentality that they are not able to partake in one due to expense or availability.

Singing with kids for kids

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{mosimage}BRAMPTON, Ont. - Gospel singer and songwriter Billy Grima sang powerful and uplifting songs of praise and reflection for the Kids for Kids concert on Feb. 7 at St. Anne’s Church here.

He sang accompanied by a choir of 20 children, also from St. Anne’s, who had been asked to participate by Grima and had been practising with him for a month. The concert was free, yet donations were accepted to raise money for Covenant House , an organization dedicated to helping runaway teenagers and street kids.

Christ's family must be His mosaic

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{mosimage}Editor’s note: this the last of four honourable mentions for the Friars Student Writing Award contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Sarah Antony, 16, is a Grade 11 student at St. Joseph’s Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.

In the Scripture verse, “That they may be one in your hand,” God is calling all followers of Christ to unite in His name. The verse specifically refers to two sticks, one representing the tribe of Judah and the other representing Israel, to be one in God’s hands.

Real freedom has self-control

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Everybody wants freedom. Everybody deserves freedom. Freedom is not simply a privilege; it is a responsibility and a right.

But what is freedom? According to one classmate, “freedom is being able to do whatever one wants.” Something about that definition didn’t sit well with me.

Unity requires prayer and sacrifice

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{mosimage}Editor’s note: this is one of four honorary mentions for the Friars Student Writing Award contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Michael Kirley, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Lindsay, Ont.

The words, “That they may be one in your hand” (Ezekiel 37:17), resound throughout the ages both as a timeless message of hope for, and a challenge to, the disciples of Jesus everywhere.

Xt3 brings Lenten comedy relief

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{mosimage}A social networking site will offer humour as part of its Lenten program beginning Feb. 25.

Members of Xt3.com will be able to access a daily calendar that will include “daily readings, podcasts and music to give inspiration — and some laughter — during the 40 days of Lent,” according to a press release from the site.

Movies, motives, mamma mia!

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In my first lecture on religion and film in January, the professor had us question our attitudes towards culture through the use of movies. He said that film is the best medium to find out about the problems that exist within our culture. I agree with him, but only to an extent.

I saw his point about movies as the means for finding out problems in our culture, but as the class continued he failed to point out if it is necessary to have a lot of these problems exposed.

Mardi Gras time for OCY

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{mosimage}TORONTO - A Lenten/Mardi Gras retreat for teens will take place in Orillia, Ont., this year, as the archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth strives to be more inclusive of its northern parishioners.

About 100 teens are expected to attend the Feb. 20-22 retreat which will feature a Mardi Gras dinner and dance on the Saturday night. They will experience catechesis sessions led by Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Peter Hundt at The Highwayman Inn & Conference Centre where the retreat takes place. They will be offered opportunities to deepen their faith in preparation for Lent with the help of a local music ministry team.

Goodness, discipline and knowledge

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{mosimage}Editor’s note: this is one of four honorary mentions for the Friars Student Writing Award contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Patrick Colangelo, 16, is a Grade 11 student at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto.

Throughout the ages, Christians have been subjected to anguish, affliction and adversity at the hands of autocrats as a result of their faith and devotion in Christ. These martyrs of the faith are worthy of praise and recognition for their valour, pertinacity and fortitude during these despondent times.

Students learn leadership skills through humour

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Breakdancers, beatboxers and speakers took to the stage to entertain and motivate more than 460 elementary school students for the Intermediate Leaders in Training Event Jan. 30.

The event, held at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton High School in Toronto, was the first leadership conference of its kind for Grade 7 and 8 students in the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

After students were led in a morning prayer, Bilaal Rajan, a 12-year-old motivational speaker and published Toronto author, encouraged students to follow their dream of making a difference.