Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 17, 2006
Youth pitches in to help families
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
Michelle Sarafinchan and friend.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Lac Ste. Anne
From a distance, it was difficult to tell whether beneath their hats shone red and white faces painted with Canadian flags or if their mugs were dabbed with sunscreen much too late to prevent a burned nose between glowing cheeks.
It was a hot Canada Day weekend for the annual Catholic Family Life Conference campers at Lac Ste. Anne. The number of families seemed about the same as in previous years but their energy level might have dipped a little because of the heat.
As usual, 20-year-old Michelle Sarafinchan was on hand assisting in the toddlers' play area. A member of Holy Family Parish in St. Albert, Sarafinchan is a member of the Life Teen youth group.
"I enjoy helping others and I know the conference strengthens families," said Sarafinchan, a recent graduate of John Paul II Bible School in Hinton.
She has volunteered the last nine years so the little ones can learn crafts, colour drawings or play with dolls while their parents and older siblings attend a number of talks throughout the weekend.
Sarafinchan sacrifices part of her holiday time from working at a St. Albert-area golf course to attend the conference because she knows that her efforts go towards helping others.
"I do it because this is an awesome place for families to get together to witness with their children," she said. "The conference is a worthy cause and very important. To me, helping out means I'm giving back."
Hundreds of families attend the weekend conference every year to listen to guest speakers talk about issues important to parents who desire to raise their children in a solid Christian environment.
While the conference includes talks meant mainly for adults, several tents are set up nearby for more specific youth age groups.
The majority of families return every year and as popularity of the conference grows, newcomers can be spotted.
Daniel and Maria Nugent drove up from Calgary with their three children.
Daniel attended a talk at the shrine with his nine-month-old daughter Christina. "This is our first conference. We heard good things about it from other families so we wanted to come and see it ourselves. It's been great," he said.
Selfless efforts by Sarafinchan and other Life Teen members on site help assure people like Marcy and Randy D'Agostini that their children will be well attended to.
The couple enjoys the weekend because it offers their four children an opportunity to talk with other children about their faith.
"We are here because our kids really enjoy it," said Marcy, attending her third conference.
Conference gives hope
"We have a secular lifestyle without a lot of Catholic families around us. We appreciate this as an influx of faith with their peers. Our children see it at their level which makes it much more personal for them."
Sarafinchan says seeing a strong Catholic family touches her deeply.
"When I look out at the world and when I read those horrible headlines, coming to a conference like this always gives me hope."