Young parishioners of St Anthony attend five-day conference to deepen faith
Be the Voice. That was the theme for the Church of St Anthony’s 4th Youth Conference held from June 24-28.
Aimed at empowering young people to overcome their reluctance to be a voice for God, the conference encouraged participants to step out of their comfort zone to be a disciple of Christ.
Over 100 young people, aged 13-30, gathered in the church auditorium to kickstart the event.
Fr Terence Pereira, spiritual director of the Youth of Saint Anthony, reminded participants that the conference was a sharing of ideas and encouraged them to be open to the experience.
There were prayer, sharing, activities, talks and workshops and participants were guided on topics such as hearing God’s voice and being God’s voice.
In one activity, participants designed headgear with an emblem identifying the user as an ambassador of Christ.
In another, participants learnt that talking about Christ should be done as frequently as they talk about their favourite band or food.
Several speakers gave inspirational talks.
Mr Edwyn deSouza from the Catholic Youth Office, together with his wife, Karen, used mime, sharing and prayer to help participants understand how they need to be connected to God so as to truly walk in His ways.
“I’m always surprised by youth,” he said, adding that participants responded “freely and without hesitation”.
On the last day, participants were divided into groups and asked to head out of the church. Each group was given tasks that involved sharing with strangers about God.
Though hesitant at first, participants were able to complete almost all the eight tasks. These included wishing a stranger the peace of Christ, performing an action song for a passing crowd, and even sharing with a total stranger their experiences of Christ.
One participant, Natasha Chong, said that this activity taught her that “being a Catholic is special. Not everyone gets to experience God or talk to Him and we should appreciate that we have the chance to”.
A Mass was then celebrated during which participants experienced a powerful outpouring of the Spirit.
John Paul Tan, who was moved by the experience, said, “I feel that God is with me all the time now and I want to spend a longer time in prayer with Him and be a lot more attentive during the Eucharist.”
In the evening, parents of the participants were invited to join the conference. After hearing a summary of the entire event, they were pleasantly surprised to see a flash mob performance done by participants led by Br Nicholas Lye, a seminarian on attachment.
The conference ended with a time of discussion between adults and teenagers.
Many participants said the discussion helped them to understand their parents better, and several parents also said they learned something new about how to bring God into their families.
By Andrew Chng