Laura Burton, the Youth Minister at St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, has joined forces with Adam Chioatto, the Youth Minister at Christ the King Parish, North Rocks, to organise a Summer camp for teenagers.
They will be assisted by St Bernadette’s assistant priest Fr Shinto Francis and Adam Carlow, a seminarian from the Diocese of Parramatta’s Holy Spirit Seminary, who is working at Castle Hill. The theme of the camp is Cardinal Virtues, which will be mixed with the fun of water slides, go-karting and swimming in the pool.
Laura says that the Life Teen motto is “Leading Teens closer to Christ.” She and her team of youth leaders do this by building genuine and trusting relationships with the youth and leading by example.
“We want to show our youth that there are people in our community who care and support them in their faith journey. We want them to know they are not alone and that there are other like-minded teens who are passionate about their faith. Our leaders are invested in them and all aspects of their lives, not just on a Friday or a Sunday night,” Laura said.
Fr Fernando Montano, parish priest at St Bernadette’s, and Fr Shinto are involved in the youth gatherings as guest speakers throughout the term and are great sources of guidance when planning content for these meetings. They preside over the Youth Mass each week, giving the youth the opportunity to get to know them. At the summer camp, Fr Shinto will say Mass each day, be available for Reconciliation and organise Eucharistic Adoration.
The camp will run for three days in the January school holidays. Adam Chioatto and Laura explained, “during this time, there will be opportunities for prayer and learning more about ourselves and our relationship with God. Our youth will be split into teams and small groups where they will undertake team-building games, listen to talks and have small group discussions. Full group activities will also be organised.”
The two parishes have combined for the camp so that the teens have the opportunity to meet other young Catholics in their area.
Each week, St Bernadette’s Youth Leaders work with the Youth Minister to plan and implement programs for the term. Leaders run games, give talks and testimonies and facilitate small group discussions. Life Teen provides resources to help guide the leaders in their program content, particularly with the Theological teachings.
The youth are regularly encouraged to bring any friends or visiting family along with them; many who are not involved in the faith. There is an inclusive environment where all are welcomed and respected.
I asked Laura what the youth had taught her and she replied “along with teaching me more about social media, the youth teach me more about myself and my own faith. In researching different topics for our youth, I learn more about the Church and its teachings. My youth challenge me to face some of my own fears, to push myself out of my comfort zone and to continually strive for my best.”
The camp will be held from 7 to 9 January 2020 at Youthworks Port Hacking Conference Centres – Rathane.
Registrations are still open until 1 January 2020. The youth groups are also fundraising for their youth camp, which you can donate via https://www.facebook.com/donate/562715124294540/466221030973555/
Monica Guy is a parishioner St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill.