Middle school aged youth participate in a group discussion Nov. 9 at St. Peter the Apostle Church and School during the the 2019 Junior Youth Conference (JYC) in Savannah. Photograph by Paola Caudill.
Middle school aged youth participate in a group discussion Nov. 9 at St. Peter the Apostle Church and School during the the 2019 Junior Youth Conference (JYC) in Savannah. Photograph by Paola Caudill.
Features

Amid fun, youth urged to be everyday saints

Originally Appeared in : 9924-11/21/19

During the 2019 Junior Youth Conference (JYC) Nov. 8-9, 266 middle school-aged youth gathered at St. John the Evangelist Church in Valdosta and 197 at St. Peter the Apostle Church and School in Savannah to learn how to recognize the potential saint in others.

 

Father Peter Lanshima, parochial vicar at St. James Church in Savannah, acts as an emcee during the JYC Nov. 8 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Valdosta. Photograph by Caroline Ebberwein.

“We brought in Mr. Peace because our theme this year is Called to be Saints, and he talks a lot about diversity and a lot about how the people around us might surprise us and us loving the people that we may not know and those people that may make us uncomfortable,” said Caroline Ebberwein, the Director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Savannah, of keynote speaker Kevin Szawala who is based in Detroit. “He talks about how they are too our neighbor, and I think that is a huge part of being called to be saints is that we are responsible for even those people, even the people who we may not know, who need kindness in their lives.”

 

She continued, “So being Catholic and being called to be a saint is more than just ‘oh, I’m going to live my life for myself and do good in my own life.’ But it’s about loving the people around us and having those eyes for somebody who may need love.”

 

Over the course of the two days, Nov. 8 in Valdosta and Nov. 9 in Savannah, the sixth, seventh and eighth graders from more than 20 parishes throughout the

While playing games such as tug of war, the youth learned that living a Christian life is about having fun as much as it is about the sacraments or attending class. Photograph by Jessica L. Marsala.

diocese learned more about sainthood by participating not only in adoration and the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation but also in various games and activities intended to provide a space for diverse skills and interests to be utilized.

 

Ebberwein said that the components of this year’s JYC program help to convey how living a Christian life “is not just one thing. It’s not just the sacraments or it’s not just class.”

 

If we are to emulate Christ, we must enjoy life just as he did and live each day to the fullest, she said.

 

The conference also had an additional purpose: reminding the youth that there are not only saints on earth but in heaven as well.

 

“We're not going through life on our own. But it's not just, you know, my mom helps me or my best friend helps me. But the actual saints help us. We don't see them, but they're there for us, too,” Ebberwein said. “It's more like we all bring something to the table. But it's not just in this world; it’s not just us—the people who I can talk to physically and hear a response—but it's the saints as well.”

 

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