Coinciding with the episcopal visitation to Aberfoyle Park parish in late August, youth participating in the quarterly Care Factor event decided to put forward some ideas for actioning the eight Gospel characteristics of a renewing parish.
Care Factor leaders Rebecca and Allan Smailes said the 11-14 year olds brainstormed how to practically live out the characteristics and then presented their ideas to Vicar General Fr Philip Marshall and director of Ministry and Leadership, Teresa Lynch, during the visitation.
“We wanted to do it in a way that was easy for the young people to understand, so we translated each of the eight characteristics into an ‘8’ word and created a superhero, ‘The Activator’,” Allan said.
“We also ran some games and did a craft activity based on the Activ8 theme. As a group we celebrated Mass with the parish, where the young people were involved in the music ministry, altar serving, reading, the offertory procession and prayers of the faithful.”
The ‘translation’ of the eight characteristics for the Care Factor participants included: medit8 (your relationship with Jesus); particip8 (participation in the Mass); communic8 (good preaching and teaching); intim8 (providing a welcoming community); compassion8 (outreach to the poor, needy and struggling); regener8 (care for all creation); motiv8 (leadership); perpetu8 (preserving the parish).
The Smailes have been running the Care Factor event in Aberfoyle Park for the past eight years.
“We’ve concentrated on this age group as there’s not a lot for them at that age as some of the youth groups tend to start when they are 15. It is called Care Factor because it’s about God’s care of us and our care for others,” Rebecca explained.
“The kids really enjoy being with other young people and connecting with young people who don’t believe you’re a weirdo because you go to church.”
Almost 30 youth from different parishes attend the events, which are held on one Saturday each school term. Topics covered have included Mary, the Eucharist, Pope Benedict, Pope Francis and his encyclicals, and scriptures of the Bible.
“We try to make it a bit contemporary,” Allan said.
“It’s exhausting getting ready for the event, but it’s also very energising. It’s a lot of fun on the day and we get to talk, relate and share with them.”
Rebecca added that it was important for parishioners to understand that while young people are the Church of tomorrow, “they are also the Church today” and need to have their voices heard.
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