By Rohan G. Tulloch SJ
There she was, standing at the door in her brownie uniform, beaming with pride as she welcomed members of our parish community to the Sunday Eucharistic Celebration. Kadrea Douglas is a member of the St Anne’s Church Brownie Troop, a group set up following a call from the Archbishop to start uniform groups to assist in the formation of the next generation of Jamaicans.
Nestled in the western end of Kingston, St Anne’s Parish has a number of ministries that cater to children and young people. Daily, during our activities, we see a steady flow of young people – the fastest growing segment of our congregation. For the children there are groups such as the Brownies and Cub Scouts; members learn discipline, how to live in harmony with self, others, creation and God. Outings to other parts of the island are an added bonus.
The youth ministry program is alive and well. Many of the young people who attend St Anne’s come from communities with seemingly insurmountable social pressures, where crime and violence happen daily. Evangelization bears this reality in mind: we aim to create an environment where youth can have an encounter with God, which will empower them to shine their light in the darkness that at times encompasses their communities. This is done through activities like the dance troop, sign language group, and homework program.
While all these programs are centred on psychological, social and physical development, the spiritual component is a critical part of our ministry too. Forty young people have just completed Youth Alpha, a program exposing them to elements of Christian teaching.
Essentially our ministry for children and young people aims to make their life better and to give them opportunities to become active members of our parish community and of society. As little Kadrea stands at the church door, the parish is offering her the tools with which to welcome the future. Let’s ensure that her future is as bright as the smile she offers to the parishioners.
This article by Rohan G. Tulloch SJ originally appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of CJI’s Mission News under the title “Jamaica: an oasis for youth and children.” Rohan G. Tulloch SJ is the pastor at St Anne’s Church in Kingston, Jamaica.