The Youth Ministry program has come a long way. They have built a comprehensive program that included three elements:
(1) a library;
(2) a new Sunday Mass intended specifically for the youth of the parish; and
(3) the youth groups.
The library was designed to provide solid Catholic Christian resources for families and individuals in pursuit of their spiritual growth. There are books, videos, DVDs, and music all for the purpose of bringing our faith back into our everyday lives.
St. Stephen’s Parish also has the Sunday evening Mass, known as the Youth Mass. We are counting on the Source and Summit of our Faith, the Eucharist, to unite us and lead the young people of our parish to a deeper and more intimate relationship with their Savior.
There are different youth groups in the Parish. The first, SURGE, is for boys and girls in Grades 5 to 7. They play laser tag, do bible studies, run car rallies, have sleepovers, and, wage jello wars.
We have also decided to bring “LifeTeen” to St. Stephen’s. LifeTeen is a unique world-wide program, specifically designed for teens. It is Eucharist based, orthodox and loyal to our Holy Father. LifeTeen’s very simple but demanding mandate is to bring teens closer to Christ, and that, coincidentally, is exactly what we would like to happen at St. Stephen’s.
LIFT is for young adults, both single or married. Previously it was limited to our youth leaders but now we would like to open it up to those in our parish who would like to come. We discuss why Catholicism is clashing so violently and frequently with our society. We take a closer look at various topics like “apologetics”, the sacraments, sexual integrity, NFP, and prayer. We meet all around Lynn Valley so please consider joining us.
In the past two years we have seen lives change, hearts soften, and relationships build. Not only has God purified our hearts and brought us closer to Him, we see Him working and transforming our leadership team. We plan to keep the parish informed about our progress and activities on a regular basis. Thank you for your support and encouragement.
The Seeds Program (Children’s Liturgy of the Word) at St. Stephen’s is for 3- to 5-year old children. It introduces them to the Gospels, teaching them about Jesus, and prepares them to participate more fully in the life of the parish community. The Seeds program is available through Pflaum Gospel Weeklies. Pflaum ships the weekly periodicals that follow the Gospel teachings during Sunday services to St. Stephen’s.
The program runs from September through May every week except Christmas and Easter, and has been in operation since 1995. Each year about 30 children register for the program and participate regularly. The 5-year olds then continue their religious education in the PREP program.
Every Sunday morning, the pastor calls the Seeds children forward to join him at the altar just after the Opening Prayer. He then discusses with the children the upcoming Gospel teachings, blesses them and sends them in the care of the Seeds teacher and helpers. The children leave the church and go the parish hall where they learn about the Gospel teaching in language more appropriate to their stage of development. During the lesson they sing, hear the Good Word, discuss it with the teacher, participate in activities that further emphasize the teaching, and have a snack. They return to the church after the Communion procession.
During the year the children in the Seeds program are also involved in several special occasions. These typically include putting on a Christmas show for the parish, making poppies for Remembrance Day, and of course celebrating the last day of the Children’s Liturgy of the Word with a little party that includes a special gift from the parish for each of them and a cake.
The Seeds teachers and helpers are all volunteers from the parish. The program provides a Teacher’s Guide for each lesson that the teacher can use in planning the week’s lesson. Each year during the registration period, parents are invited to become teachers or helpers. Based on the number of volunteers, the coordinator draws up a list of teachers and helpers and puts them together as a team for particular dates.
The Children’s Liturgy of the Word program at St. Stephen’s has been highly successful and well received by parents and other parishioners. This success is due to the dedication of the teachers and parent volunteers. Children who have been through this program have a strong start to their religious education.