Youth Speak News

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Office of Catholic Youth is launching a leadership program this year to strengthen young leaders in their schools, parishes and communities.

The nine-month leadership training program is open to 16- to 19-year-olds in the archdiocese of Toronto and aims to develop their skills and equip them to be active witnesses of the Gospel not only in youth ministry but in all aspects of life.

Fashion show gives models their dignity back

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Fashion and modesty shared the runway at the Pure Exposure fashion show Aug. 20.

The show, created by summer interns at Campaign Life Coalition in Toronto, featured a team of nearly 30 young models at the Woodbine Banquet and Convention Hall, with pulsing music and a classy backdrop for the benefit of pregnant mothers in need.

Fostering prayer on campus

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I once prayed the rosary while sitting in a tree. That might sound a little bizarre, but as a student on a secular campus I often found myself getting creative in the search for a place to simply be with God.

A Filipino-made solution

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TAGUIG CITY, Philippines - Two years ago I discovered a cultural revolution was happening in the Philippines. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would inspire the world and transform my life forever.

This month, I landed in the Philippines to begin six months of work with the Gawad Kalinga movement. I will be working with the people of the GK Villages to help develop tourism as a means of livelihood in their communities. I will also be meeting and living with many of the families and documenting their stories to share with others.

Conquering your life's crows

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I often struggle to separate myself from situations where I know that I will be tempted to turn away from my Christian values, especially when I’m sure that my friends will think differently of me. I’ve also felt guilty when I’d either neglect time with God for my friends, or vice versa.  

This guilty mentality finally stopped when I attended a Christian youth camp where a minister from Southfield, Michigan, named David John (DJ) delivered a talk called “It’s YOUR life.”

WYD journey in Sydney only the beginning

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It has been one year since those glorious Australian sun-filled days when the streets of Sydney overflowed with faithful pilgrims from around the world. Thousands of pilgrims, Canadians included, arrived with hearts full of joy for World Youth Day 2008, one of the largest events  Australia has ever hosted.

WYD08 has had a deep and special impact on me. For two years, I had the privilege of working on the preparations for WYD08 and this exposed me to the beauty of the Universal Church. During my time at WYD I also learned the great importance of evangelization within the media and when used positively, the tremendous impact that it has on people’s faith journey.

Journey to the Father still strong after 10 years

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{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

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{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

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{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

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{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

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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?