The Serangoon District Youth Conference aimed at instilling a deep desire for Jesus among young people.

More than 350 youths recently gathered for what has been billed as the first ever Serangoon District Youth Conference.

The event, which had the theme Heart of Worship, focused on the Eucharist as the source and summit of worship.

It was held at CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh) from Jan 14-15 and attracted young people aged 15-23 years from the Serangoon District parishes.

The conference aimed at instilling a deep desire for Jesus among the young participants, equipping them with spiritual tools and planting the seed of community within them, according to organisers. The event included talks, worship sessions, small group sharings, prayer breakout sessions and Mass.

On the first day, speakers from the Institute of World Evangelisation (ICPE) shared fundamental Catholic truths with the crowd, such as the need to live their identity as children of God and surrendering their lives to Jesus.

The first day concluded with a time of deep worship as archdiocesan youth chaplain Fr Brian D’Souza carried in the Blessed Sacrament for adoration.

The second day saw participants reflecting on a familiar line from the Profession of Faith – “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. The youths received a powerful message on the missionary nature of the Church and also learnt about contemplative prayer, scriptural prayer and Charismatic prayer.

Diocesan Seminarian Jude David reminded them of the importance of being rooted in community and also gave a testimony of his experiences in community.

Participants said they found the conference a moving experience. “It was heartwarming to meet so many people devoted to God in this pragmatic world. And even if we’ve heard it before, it’s nice to hear declarations of God’s grace,” said 18-year-old Sara from the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“I found the Ignatian prayer really helpful as I could find myself connecting with God on a whole different level,” said 23-year-old Freeman Chia from the St Francis Xavier Church youth ministry.

“The talk on community really opened my eyes about what community is about, and how everything is communitarian,” he said. “I know now that I have a better direction of where God is leading me to.”

The idea to hold the conference was mooted last year and was the initiative of the Serangoon District Youth Council.

The district had held a day of prayer and fasting in March in which youth leaders from the five parishes gathered to discern the direction of God for the district.

The leaders then decided to plan a programme to cater to the needs of the youths here.

Using the feedback obtained from that day of prayer, the core team spent 10 months working on the conference.

The Serangoon District parishes are St Francis Xavier, St Vincent de Paul, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Anne.