Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
November 19, 2001
NET makes religion fun
Travelling youth evangelists wow junior high students
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — "I didn't know being Catholic could be fun," said 13-year-old Lori Aubichon. "This really makes me want me to go to church."
Aubichon is one of 90 Grade 8 students from St. Edmund's School who spent a full day at St. Edmund's Church Nov. 8 learning about their faith in a fun way.
The instructors were members of the National Evangelization Team (NET), an 11-member group of young Catholics that crosses the country in a van evangelizing young people.
NET members include high school graduates from across Canada, the United States and South Korea. "They share the Good News with young people," explained Pat Holgate, the group contact person for the dioceses of Edmonton and St. Paul. "It's young people ministering to other young people."
This is the second NET to have visited the Edmonton Archdiocese in the past two months. It arrived from Regina Oct. 24, a day after the first one had left.
Since then, it has visited a number of Catholic schools, including Cardinal Leger, Blessed Kateri, St. Cecilia and Holy Family. The group will remain in the Edmonton Archdiocese until the end of November, when it will leave for London, Ont. After Christmas it will visit Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Their main theme for high school audiences is World Youth Day. For their younger audiences it is basic faith issues.
"We are sharing our faith with young people because the youth are not only the Church of tomorrow, they are the Church of today," said Hinton NET member Aaron Johnson, 19. "We are encouraging them to make their faith their own."
At St. Edmund's, NET led retreats for Grades 7, 8 and 9 based on the theme Who are You. Principal Larry Rankin, who wanted NET to explain to the youngsters who they are and where they are going from a Christian perspective, chose the theme.
NET members did that by sharing their personal stories of how they met God and how he became the centre of their lives. They also used small group discussion as well as music, songs and skits to bring the Gospel message to the teens.
"We are not here to preach but to share," said retreat leader Nicole Beaudry of Winnipeg.
The youngsters were fully involved throughout the retreat, planning and participating in skits that illustrated faith in real life. Some skits illustrated what happens in situations when Christ is not present and others when Christ is present.
"We tried to make the point that faith is a practical thing, a living thing, not just something you celebrate on Sunday," Johnson said.
Throughout the day NET emphasized the following points: God loves you, God knows you, God made you and God has a plan for you.
Beaudry gave the teens four "tools" for Christian living: prayer, sacraments, fellowship and service. "These are the things that you need to get closer to God," she told them near the end of the retreat.
"I encourage you to pray often, to go to Confession, to receive Communion and hang out with Christian friends so you can share your faith with them."
While some students said they liked the retreat because of the food and because it kept them away from classes, most said they liked it because it taught them about their faith in a fun way.
"Before this retreat I was like not so into church," said Aubichon. "Now this makes me want to go to church. It seemed kind of fun to me."
Why? "Because we weren't sitting around listening to preachers talking," she replied. "We actually got to play games and plays and stuff like that about God and talk about it. I had a really good time. I didn't know being Catholic could be fun."
At the retreat Aubichon said she learned people can choose to go to heaven or hell. "I thought that if you were bad you go to hell and if you are good you go to heaven. But this lady (a NET member) told me that even if you sin, you can still make a choice to go to heaven."
Roberta Flis, 13, also said the retreat changed her view of the Church. "Before I didn't want to go to Church. I found it boring," she said. "This makes me want to go. I had a lot of fun."
Lindsay Pahm, also 13, got one thing out of the retreat. "I learned that God loves everyone and that we are all equal." She said she loved the skits because they were fun and made faith real for her.
In one skit she played the role of a girl who made fun of a child who was different. The play illustrated a situation where Christ was not present.
But in another skit Pahm redeemed herself by welcoming the child into the group. This play was to show what happens when Christ is present.
"I learned that God loves us, knows us and has a plan for us," said 12-year-old Michelle Bowman. She liked the small group discussions because "that way you get to interact with people."
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