Year 9-11 students turned a wet weekend in New Plymouth into a celebration for a Taranaki Youth Day weekend together caring for the environment and reflecting on what being together means.
We had planned a service project at local Community Gardens but instead walked to local parks, collecting rubbish along the way.
We stopped at St Philomena’s Church for a pilgrimage prayer and song then continued our walk to Francis Douglas Memorial College for afternoon tea and games.
Later World Youth Day pilgrims Kate and Fatima talked to us about their pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro. Kate travelled with the Palmerston North pilgrimage group and Fatima went as an international volunteer – several young people are now inspired to try to go to the next World Youth Day in Poland in 2016.
After a barbecue tea we abandoned plans for a candlelit pilgrimage and drove back to St Joseph’s Hall for more games and the Prayer Labyrinth – a quiet prayer time for all.
For many this was a spiritually moving highlight. Fr Vijay celebrated a special midnight Mass with us in St Joseph’s Church. More food and a movie followed, then a short sleep before morning prayer, breakfast and cleanup, a swim at the local pools and home in time for lunch.
Thanks to all the young people who came along for making the most of your opportunities and sharing your gifts and talents. Thanks also to Kate and Fatima, parent helpers, young adult helpers, youth team and Fr Vijay.
Clare Sarten is youth coordinator in Taranaki.