Seven days, five provinces, one van, six people with one shared mission: challenging young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the church, that is how it started. You are now reading the last update from the 2021/2022 St. Anthony’s team. I know, I know it is bittersweet, but our time is coming to the end. Soon we will be ending this year the same way we started, with a road trip across Canada as we make it back to headquarters in Ottawa.
Challenging young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church. But how did we do that? Through daily encounters and little interactions, we show them the smallest glimpse of the Lord’s love. By our sincere words and actions, we pray that they may come to know God more and more. In NET, we call this relational ministry. Relational ministry focuses on getting to know the youth on a personal level; this doesn’t always mean talking about the faith and doing Bible studies, it looks different for everyone. To the St. Anthony’s team it means playing with them at recess and letting them “put you in jail”; it means joining the choir to sing with them; it means watching the shows that they love; it means painting banners with them; it means singing karaoke and looking like a fool with them; it means knowing their name and the things they like. Ultimately, relational ministry means to be fully present, focusing solely on them, and loving them in the moment.
Relational ministry sparks trust between the youth and netters. One of my teammates, Marie, has seen many fruits from relational ministry. Marie invited a group of grade eight girls to participate in a small group. Since January, Marie has been meeting weekly with these young women to facilitate a place of fellowship where they can be honest and open with where they are at in their faith. Eventually, the hope that they will be able to share their faith with their peers. One of the girls shared that she led her friend through a reflection on being known, seen, and loved fully by God. She took what she learned on one of our retreats and shared it with her friend. How beautiful is that? Marie also shares,
“I am amazed at how far these young women have grown. It’s so beautiful how God can take your little yes, whether it be through hanging out, talking to one that looks lonely or just being present to them at the moment. I have seen God so present through these young people especially when we pray together! We recently prayed with scripture and one of the girls said that when we prayed ” the Bible seemed more than just words, it felt alive.” The Lord is not only taking my yes but the yes’s that they give Him even if it is so small and He is working incredible miracles through it!”
It has truly been a blessing and an honour being able to serve the people in the St. Anthony of Padua community. We have seen the youth grow deeper in their faith, especially since we switch to having youth nights every week. The youth now have a community that they can rely on to grow in holiness. Although we were sent here to help build up the youth ministry program, we, ourselves, have been highly impacted. My team’s hearts have been touched by the outpouring of generosity and love people have shown us. It is going to be hard to say goodbye to all these beautiful people.
I’ll leave you with this, do not be afraid to say yes to the Lord. You may not know what He is doing at the moment, but later He will reveal it to you. Yes is such a simple word and we say it so many times a day. I challenge you to say YES to the Lord today! For the Lord is calling you to love others and bring them to know the Lord’s love through you. Challenging young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the church is your mission too. Are you going to say yes?
-written by Louise Lapain