One of the keys to a solid foundation in the faith is having a strong community in which we can grow and share the faith. The Hispanic youth in our parish have the opportunity to share in a community of faith and culture through the Hispanic Youth Group. This ministry provides our youth a space to continue the formation they began when they prepared for and received the sacraments, and to do so with friends by their side.
Everardo Ramirez Aguiñaga, Hispanic Ministry Coordinator, sees that a place designated for the youth is crucial for keeping them engaged and growing.
“In the youth group, the youth find a safe and welcoming space to explore their faith, make friends, and learn important values,” Everardo says. “They can find support and friendship in the group, deepen their relationship with God and their understanding of the Catholic faith, develop important social and emotional skills, serve others through community service projects, and enjoy spending time together in recreational activities.”
At the ministry’s weekly meetings, the participants pray together, explore different faith topics, and break into small groups for further discussion. They also share food and, importantly, fellowship. In addition to the weekly meetings, the group gets together for recreational activities, such as bowling, and service projects.
The Hispanic Youth Group was formed in 2004 and began when the youth needed to prepare for their Confirmation. They continued their formation after Confirmation because, as the faith journey does not end with the sacrament, having an active community of faithful peers is so important.
“The youth group helps Hispanic youth feel welcomed and connected to the church and their faith,” Everardo says. “We celebrate Hispanic culture, and promote leadership and participation of young people in the church and community.”
Throughout the year, the young people have additional opportunities for spiritual growth and formation through retreats and the Discipleship Catholic Youth Conference, hosted by the diocese. The Hispanic Youth Group is open to parishioners from both St. John and St. James between 13 and 17 years old.
Serving the youth and watching them grow in faith has been a rewarding experience for Everardo.
“It has led me to strengthen my faith and deepen my relationship with God,” Everardo says. “It has been a wonderful way to serve God and others.”
Parishioners can support the youth of the parishes in a variety of ways. Volunteers are needed to help with activities and transportation, financial support and resources help to create more opportunities for the youth and prayers for the young people and leaders are greatly appreciated.
The Hispanic Youth Group meets on Wednesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the youth house at St. John’s campus. Students are welcome to attend a meeting and will be invited to register.
To learn more or if you are interested in serving with the group, contact Everardo Ramirez Aguiñaga at email@example.com.