Wednesday, 23 September 2009

'How to Animate a Youth Group' session at Don Bosco Nashik

The 'How to Animate a Parish Youth Group' session was finally held yesterday, 22 September 2009. Frs Blany Pinto, Edwin Colaco and Greg D'Cunha came up from Virar-Jyoti and kept a large group busy for over 3 hours.

The group consisted of 2 youth from Devlali, 4 youth and 3 animators from Holy Cross, 4 youth (Jackson, Quincy, Philbert, Yannick) and 4 animators (including Sushma and Ross, that is) from Don Bosco, 1 animator from Satpur, the STI novices, the SHTC novices, the MPh and the Third Year students of Divyadaan, a senior citizen from Nirmala Home, 2 sisters from Kilbil, besides Frs Nelson and Diego from Don Bosco - more than 50, I think. Which made for an extremely crowded AV room! But the sessions were lively, concrete, helpful and very interesting.

The team began with an AV prayer, and went on to talk about how to begin a youth group in a parish: official announcement by the Parish Priest, getting a list of names and contacts, sending a letter of invitation to each youth, visiting youth in their homes. Then there were suggestions about vision, registration (interesting set of details besides name, address, phone number and email id), how to plan the meetings (the agenda prepared by the coordinating committee and posted on the notice board in advance; minutes), the structure of the youth group (priest coordinator, lay and religious animators, president, vice president, secretary, joint secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer; the various groups - social, spiritual, entertainment, media). There was even a list of suggested activities and charts for planning activities (what, who, when, for whom, etc).

The whole session was spiced up with action songs and games - which the animators insisted were important to keep the group lively and relaxed.

One of the lovely things about this session was the ability of the animators to break into Marathi and Hindi (some impressively fluent and others 'apunka'), seeing that there were some youth from the Marathi-speaking group too. It was a real pity that once again the Satpur youth did not turn up.

The team had prepared themselves for hands-on sessions for youth, but in the end there were more religious than youth. Still, the focus was on the two parishes that turned up, Don Bosco and Holy Cross: they were busy creating action songs, games, drawing up agendas, planning activities, and so on. Not that the others were left out. At any rate, a new term has been coined: 'religious youth' and 'non-religious youth.' Which has nothing to do with the piety or spirituality of either group.

I saw our youngsters furiously taking notes, and from the body language I think we can expect good things!

Anyone wishing to have copies of the power point presentation can approach me. Fr Edwin has been most generous with his stuff.

Two comments: (1) a somewhat livelier prayer session. As for the songs and games, the youth could be involved in planning and creating prayer moments. (2) More on catechesis. How is this to be done, really? And what kind of year long program? Does anybody have schemes drawn up? In my (brief) experience, this is by far the most difficult part of running a youth group. I really ought to draw upon my experience with the Rovers in Rome... They had a sort of program, and also some creative techniques. Thus, e.g., sex education was done by means of a 'chapter': literally the youngsters planning the topics, dividing up the work, doing research, and presenting them week after week to the whole clan, with ensuing discussions, etc. Extremely effective. Then again the 'vigil under the stars': extraordinary in its beauty and effectiveness. The catechesis during the monthly outings, in fact, was always planned and executed by the group itself.

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