Katharine O’Brien is a parish youth worker at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Wanstead. This Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world, and in this blog Katharine explains how she will introduce the theme and explore the material with the children and young people she works with.
Harvest Fast Day is approaching. On Friday 2 October, schools and communities around the country will be raising money to support communities affected by violence, like Isabel’s. I watched Isabel’s film and saw the reality of life in San Salvador, El Salvador. The video offers insight into her community, into the heart of the youth project seeking to brighten up the prospects of young people, to tackle the reality of gang culture and the danger they face simply by stepping out of doors. Isabel tells us how sad it is to see the children she grew up with turning to guns and violence.
Can you imagine walking from home to Church or school, fearing for your life with every step? Lying in bed listening as two sides of a road have a stand-off? Sister Cruz, the head teacher of a local Catholic school, and a group of volunteers offer an alternative – an opportunity to develop skills and open up opportunities for young people to lead others and share joy in their community.
This is a great video to get young people thinking; to encourage them to step inside another culture and, despite the miles
between them, to do something positive and “love thy neighbour” (Matthew 12:31). The video can provide a start point for our primary school CAFOD club to get promoting, to encourage a bright fundraiser, to write prayers for use in our chapel and to set up a short liturgy for other members of the school during our Friday chapel time. As our Parish and school have had previous links with El Salvador through the Connect2 scheme, this will also provide an opportunity to extend their existing knowledge.
With our secondary school aged young people, this will be a great opportunity to facilitate some discussions about social justice, wants and needs, and to explore the issue of gang culture in more depth through drama and debating. By empowering them with knowledge, they will be equipped not only to fundraise for the appeal, but also to understand how their seemingly small response can make a big difference. These activities will also enable me to develop the use of the new CAFOD confirmation resource Be Revolutionary within our existing catechesis. After all, our aim is to encourage young Catholics to heed the call of the Gospel “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and this programme has many elements which encourage young people to spread love around the Church through prayer and action which transcends country borders and language barriers.
Tis Harvest we’re asked to brighten up to help build a brighter world for young people like Isabel. So grab your bright, stripy socks, create your outfits, and raise your voices to make a difference this Harvest Fast Day. Please encourage your community to join me. What will Harvest Fast Day look like in your community? How can we offer young people the opportunity to lead, to spread the word and share the Gospel with others? I want to find out, do you?