Youth group unites to strengthen parish

By Veronika Cox

The youth of Sandy Bay parish are embracing their role as the present and future of the Church, thanks to an initiative by parish priest Fr Shammi Perera.

Fr Shammi heard Pope Francis’ exhortation that young people take their place as the “now of the Church” during the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, and decided it was time for action.

“The parish didn’t have a youth group, so I thought we would slowly try to get it started,” he explained.

“I approached people and had individual conversations, and then inducted six youth leaders. They made a pledge to become missionary disciples and work for the furthering of the parish and God’s kingdom.”

University of Tasmania postgraduate student Sarah Fernando said becoming a youth leader was part of her journey to Christ.

“It was a calling for me to be a living testimony of that purpose among the youth community, so that others may be able to see and witness what God calls each one of us to be,” she said.

Sarah said she shared Fr Shammi’s view that there was nothing more beautiful than a young person encountering Christ and discovering the marvel and the beauty in the ever-youthful heart of Christ.

“Youth groups are important because they can become an instrument to bring the youth of the parishes together,” she explained.

“Young people particularly love fellowship and to interact with peers and like-minded people. It is a mode to establish the basis on which our next generation of the Church is built up and nurtured.”

The youth group, which started in March, follows a different theme each Sunday of the month.

“Study Sunday is about learning different facets of our faith and theology,” Sarah said.

“Adventure Sunday involves being engaged in a recreational and outdoor activity together as a team. Prayer Sunday is all about learning different Christian prayer traditions and also practically using them to pray. Mercy Sunday is to engage in different corporal works of mercy, to serve the parish community and finally to reach out to the vulnerable and needy in the wider Tasmanian community.”

The group is open to any young people who would like to be involved.

“If something is good for us, it has to be good to the other youth who sit on our pews on Sundays,” Sarah said.

The Sandy Bay youth group runs at 11.15am every Sunday, directly following the 10am mass at Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

Tags: Sandy Bay, Southern Deanery, Youth Evangelisation