EDMONTON — The young people of Santa Maria Goretti Parish were not as active in the Church as youth of the past had been. In response, a youth group was launched to get them more drawn into parish life.
"We just wanted to get more youth motivated about our church," said Rosa Bruno, a youth group member.
After several years of work, it's all come together. One visible sign of the new life among the young people of Santa Maria Goretti Parish is that 11 of them, accompanied by three older adults, will head for World Youth Day in Madrid this summer.
"It's been a nine-year journey to finally get to this point, and to see it finally take fruit I can't describe it in words," said Luciana Floreancig. "Good things are worth waiting for."
Tonia Cappellano said youth group activities have not only brought the young people closer, but has united the whole faith community.
"After all of our activities and meetings, we've all grown a lot closer," said Cappellano. "It's not just us spending time together, but the other parishioners too."
The group is comprised of young people aged 12 to 25. With their newfound zeal and their presence at many parish events, they've become known to the whole parish.
Just a year ago, the notion of a parish youth group heading for WYD was unfathomable. No parish youth had ever participated in the event.
"We started the youth group so that our own faith could develop. When Luciana introduced the idea of actually going to World Youth Day, we jumped on it because we thought it would be a great opportunity," said Daniel Abbott.
Bruno looks forward to being around other young adults from other cultures who share the same faith.
"It will be a good experience to meet people from around the world, and to see the pope. I hope to grow as a person because it's totally different from being in Edmonton," said Cappellano.
Leading the group to Spain is Floreancig, a WYD veteran who will be at her fourth World Youth Day.
"This is an amazing group. They are all so enthusiastic and all so energetic," she said. "They've already taken such great leadership roles within our parish."
Floreancig is eager to see the effect the WYD experience will have on the rest of the parish. One positive impact already is that the younger children look to the WYD participants as role models.
The young people will take part in a daylong retreat July 16 at Ephphatha House with Mass, Adoration, Stations of the Cross and a community service project.
"It's a mini-day that we can spend bonding as a group because in Spain we will be together 24/7," said Floreancig. "This group has already bonded so nicely, but this is a nice way to spend a whole day together before we go."
A commissioning Mass will be held at the parish the following day. The entire parish has been behind the group with financial support, prayers and fervour.
The WYD group's fundraising goal is $25,000, and they are just short of that mark. Their last big fundraiser will be a pasta luncheon at the Santa Maria Goretti Hall.