The second annual Allez! Go! gathering, held Nov. 9-10, brought together a group of 13- to 17-year-olds for a weekend Christian-leadership experience. What is the novelty of this event? “Young people sharing their experiences with other young people,” which was facilitated by the youth animation team, whose members ranged from age 17 to 25. It was an opportunity for all participants to grow!
Inspired by excerpts from Christus Vivit, the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation for young people, the event was designed to be a place where adolescents could “connect their daily lives with their faith and their relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ,” says Isabel Correa, head of the Youth Mission, in Montreal. “One of the things that this exhortation expresses to young people is to not be afraid to be the protagonists of their future, that God loves them, that God wants to see them alive and thriving, and that they have the ability to move forward. To not be fearful to learn, be guided, take risks, and trust those who have already been there. […] Learning to interact in an intergenerational way, but also with the world around them,” she says.
Leadership for every taste
As part of an approach that is much more interactive than theoretical, this year’s Go! Go! gathering gave the chance to some 65 young people to discover what it means to be a leader in today’s society. On what model was it based? The most divine example of leadership, Jesus Christ: through his listening, his patience, the ways he guided, taught, and served. “The idea is to teach [young people] to serve, to love and to live—in joy. That’s the philosophy of the Youth Mission,” adds Isabel Correa.
In building leadership, there is indeed something for everyone. During the weekend, these young people were able to work on their communication skills by sharing the issues that can arise in adolescence, such as peer influence and self-esteem, and explore the different qualities that make up a good leader, and more. The belief being that when they leave here, everyone shall continue to develop their own leadership role within their parish and within their local community, alike.
A dual experience
Putting together such an event is no small task. The animation and organization teams were composed of about fifteen youth aged 17 to 25-years-old with past experience of the Go! Go! event. They attended two days of training before the event, and met to plan, organize and create a programme that would feed and nourish the faith of the other young attendees. From the planning of music performances, meals, activities, animation, and more, they gained rich experience and helped others to grow, too. From the point of view of the adult organizers at Youth Mission Montreal, it was so moving to witness the collaborative spirit, sharing of duties and delightful synergy that was created in the group.
Playful and spiritual
While the teenagers were in constant motion and learned a lot through play and brotherly exchange, they were also able to experience strong spiritual moments, particularly during the Sunday evening of worship and mass with their parents. “We think that teens will not be interested in worship, confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But it was incredible to bear witness and to see how many youth were there. […] To see these teens before the Blessed Sacrament was beyond beautiful!” expresses Isabel Correa.
As Isabel Correa points out, experiencing two days off free from social media allowed both animators and teens on hand to relearn how to connect with each other devoid of screens. Plus, it was a great way to make friends and to build community.
Click here to learn more about Allez! Go! and other Youth Mission Montreal events.