Church of St. Vincent De Paul Youth Alpha Coordinator Cecilia Fransis talks to the partipants on how to read the bible. Photos by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – The parish of St. Vincent de Paul has started the Youth Alpha programme to engage its post-Confirmation youths. It began Jan 9 and is held every Saturday evening. About 20 youths have registered for the course.

A typical evening begins with a small meal of hotdogs, fish balls, samosas and drinks as the youths make small talk over topics such as hip-hop dance or catch up with one another.

The coordinators later break the ice with the “Broken Telephone” game. Youths stand in two lines and each youth whispers down the line a message heard from the previous player. This game ties in with the evening’s theme of communication and God’s word.

Youth Alpha follows the usual Alpha programme with a talk on topics such as who Jesus is, how and why He died, how to pray or read the bible. Group sharing comes after the talk.

Some differences include video clips of youths interviewed about their thoughts on certain topics and increasing participant interaction through games and activities.

Participants found the programme informative, and summarised what they learnt from catechism. It also allowed them to re-connect with former classmates.

That was partly why Julia Chow, 16, joined the Youth Alpha. She also wanted to “find God in my life”. Julia especially liked the sharing sessions as it helped the youths to learn from one another’s personal experiences.

She also found topics covered in Youth Alpha to be more thoroughly covered compared to catechism classes, notably topics such as who God is and how to communicate with Him.

Matthew Yeo, 16, has attended the adult Alpha programme before and prefers the youth version because speakers relate the session to what youths face, such as peer pressure.

Cecilia Fransis, a catechist of six years and current parish Youth Alpha programme coordinator, said that the 10-week course will help provide ongoing faith formation for the youths and keep them going to church after Confirmation.

“When they leave catechism class, their faith level is at 15 years. If they become Sunday Catholics or don’t attend Mass, and 10 years later when they meet with a crisis, their faith level ... may not see them through [the crisis],” Mrs Fransis said.

Apart from Youth Alpha, the parish is studying other ways to engage post-Confirmation youth. There are also plans to offer the programme to non-Christian youths.
By Darren Boon
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