Other Avenues of Encountering Youth in Today’s Church
Originally Published on OMIWORLD.ORG
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Fr. Ali C. NNAEMEKA is a Nigerian Oblate ministering in Canada since 2014.
After my arrival in Canada, I took one year for my missionary immersion in Quebec’s local Church. The primary assignment of my community is to minister to the Innu people, a First Nation of Quebec.
After my year of pastoral initiation, I started my pastoral assignment shortly before last Christmas. With the recent arrival of Fr. Alfred RAVELOMAMPISANDRAIBE from Madagascar, our missionary team is comprised of four priests who are in charge of seven out of the nine Innu communities of Quebec.
I am presently in-charge of two of these communities, namely Schefferville (Metimekosh) and Ekuanitshit (Mingan). Although I’ve been here only a few months, I am already finding the mission very interesting. Our communities, just like every Christian community in Quebec, are made up of the elderly. So, it is almost a luxury to have the youth attend Church activities.
Nevertheless, I have discovered a new way of reaching out to the youth. I found out that the saying, “If the mountain does not come to Muhammed, Muhammed has to go the mountain” has to be applied in their situation. Coming from a nation where soccer is the national sport, I had to make few adjustments in my own choice of sports in this country where the national sport is hockey.
So through sports activities, I started gaining the confidence of the youths. And from all indications, it seems to be fruitful. Surprisingly, during the Easter celebrations, the youth in Mingan showed me their love. During the Holy Thursday and Good Friday celebrations, the youth in our Church helped us greatly. Due to certain cultural activities in the region, most of the members of our Christian communities were traveling. And so, in the absence of the elders, the presence of the youth was not only comforting but providential as they helped out in some of the services, a reality we are no longer used to. While one of them took the first reading on Holy Thursday, two other groups served at the altar both on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
On Good Friday evening, we showed a film (Of Gods and Men). During the projection of the film, with the exception of a single elder, all those in attendance were youth. At the end of the Easter celebrations, I have come to understand that if the youth are to be reached in today’s Church, non-traditional pulpits cannot be ignored. (Ali C. Nnaemeka)