By Andrea Kang

LukeFong01.jpgTHE CHURCH OF Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) celebrated her sixth monthly youth mass on Sat, Mar 25 with a tinge of sombreness and quiet contemplation.

In place of the usual high energy gathering hymns sung before mass, drama ministry Revelation Generation presented an audio skit about a troubled teenager who turns to God for answers and assurance in her need for love. Unable to communicate with her parents, she questions their love for her and in turn questions God's love for her. She asks, "God, do you love me?" a question that had many thinking as they sat in quiet reflection.

The answer, as the youths later realised, was in that Sunday's gospel reading. For the youths present who, like the troubled teen in the skit, were sceptical or unsure of God's love, Father Luke Fong's homily on God's gift of love opened some eyes, touched more hearts, and reminded others of God's immense love for them.

Gregory Leong, 17, who had attended five out of the six youth masses, said, "I took away two things from the homily: One, we love because God loves us, not because we want to gain God's love. And two, no matter how good we are, we do not deserve heaven".

As a closing to the homily, the youths were to repeat the verse Jn 3:16 after Father Luke, except they were to substitute the words, "the world" and "everyone" with their own names. (For God so loved [your name] that he gave his only Son, so that [your name] might not perish but might have eternal life.)

"The moment I said my name, my heart skipped a beat, because this is me, me who is so rotten. It really drove in the message of Lent. That Jesus died for me. He did everything for me. It's time I start behaving myself now," said Sarah Siow, 23.

Gregory Loo, 22, who came in response to a friend's invitation, said, "The homily acted as an affirmation of what we already know, not so much as bringing something new. It was a reminder that God is a loving God. He cares, no matter what we have done. He loves us for who we are".

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LukeFong01.jpgThe idea of having a monthly youth mass at OLPS was proposed by parish priest, Father Gregoire Van Giang, MEP. He wanted a place where priests could, directly and frequently, speak to youths during their homilies. This is carried out in a creative and interactive manner which engages the youths and keeps them attentive.

Another purpose of the youth mass is for the youths to take ownership of the mass through the various ministries usually carried out by adults. Father Gregoire believes that this is the best way youths can learn to appreciate the mass and the Eucharist in a vibrant yet solemn manner.

OLPS youth coordinator Susan Andrews says that she has seen a huge change in the youths of the parish. "I get kids calling me, asking if they could help in the planning or execution. This is so different from when we first started. I used to have to beg people [to help]."

The youth mass has also brought about a synergy between the eight youth ministries in OLPS. "All the members now know each other. Previously, each ministry used to be a standalone," said Susan. "The youths see this as an opportunity to come together and give thanks to the community." Susan adds that all these would not have been possible without the support of the priests, parents and especially the youths. "We have been very blessed."

The next youth mass takes place on Apr 22, 8pm at OLPS.

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