Physically distant yet socially connected

In spite of the uncertainty of MCO 2.0, the Life Teen Ministry of the Church of St Francis Xavier (SFX) continues to spread God’s word and promote fellowship among the teens of the parish.

Feb 27, 2021

By Ann-Marie Khor
In spite of the uncertainty of MCO 2.0, the Life Teen Ministry of the Church of St Francis Xavier (SFX) continues to spread God’s word and promote fellowship among the teens of the parish.

Having only conducted one physical session in February 2020 before the first Movement Control Order (MCO) was announced, the Life Teen Ministry of SFX has since then conducted all their sessions online. Rather than dwell in despair, the ministry continues to make full use of Zoom’s tools, such as the breakout room, annotation and poll functions, to host engaging virtual gatherings.

This year alone, they have already conducted three virtual sessions which focuses on sharing about God and the Church as well as building connections with the teens of the parish. There are usually two sessions a month, which are conducted on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.

This year started off on a good note with a Come to the BOAT session to welcome the new year. The figurative BOAT stands for the ministry’s aspirations: which is to be a place for Bonding where people can be Open, Accepting and True with one another.

The session began with a virtual praise and worship session, followed by a video sharing and an opportunity for discussion and reflection among the participants. The group then took part in a communal drawing activity using Zoom’s Annotate feature to share their hopes for 2021. There were a lot of similarities in their aspirations, as most said they wanted to do well in their studies, meet their friends again in a COVID-free world, and even to turn over a new leaf! 

The Life Teen Ministry has also just recently completed a series of Life Onlines on the Dignity of the Human Person, focusing on our inherent value as God’s creation and how we can love ourselves and those around us through creating boundaries and building healthy relation ships with one another.

Both these sessions were conducted in accordance with Life Teen’s system of Gather, Proclaim, Break and Send, which is derived from the flow of the Mass, but adapted in order to make it work on a virtual platform. Typically, the Gather consists of an ice-breaker game or a skit to allude to the topic of the day, while the Proclaim is a sharing conducted by the ministry’s core team members. The Break is used for group discussion, during which the breakout room function on Zoom is utilised. This is followed by the Send, which is usually either a communal prayer, blessing from the parish priest Fr Norris Seenivasan, SJ, or a takehome activity.

So, in spite of the uncertainty of the pandemic, this Life Teen Ministry plans to continue building connections and leading teens closer to Christ, albeit virtually for the time being.

Other than hosting a prayer box and virtual prayer gatherings, they have also organised virtual Life Nights, called Life Online sessions, aimed at equipping the parish’s teens with sound knowledge of the Bible and the Church’s teachings. They have conducted these sessions since last year, and the topics previously covered include understanding  and finding our vocation in life,as well as real ways of living out our faith – namely, being Christlike in the words we speak as well as in the media we consume and put out into the world.

The ministry’s activities are supported by a small Core Team of adults who have undergone formation since April 2019 (almost an entire year before the ministry was officially re-launched in February 2020!), in order to better equip themselves to serve the youth of the church.

They welcome any teen in secondary school to join their virtual sessions for the rest of the year. The following sessions on Feb 20, Mar 13 and Mar 27 will be focused on the Lenten season.

Feedback from the teens who regularly attend the online sessions has largely been positive.

“Everyone is nice and the sessions are helpful. We have fun sessions about current issues and also about God,” said Calleigh Lim, 15.

When asked about what was the most memorable message she has taken home from a Life Online session, Calleigh shared that it was this: “God has created me for a reason and I am worth being here. I also learned to avoid staying quiet and to stand up for myself and others in need.”

For Mikael, 14, the sessions in Life Teen have allowed him to connect with people who have the same interests, as well as hopes and dreams, as him.

“It’s a safe space where we don’t judge anyone, and anything that is shared in the session, stays in the session,” said Mikael. “I usually feel great because I get to talk to people that aren't from my school. I come back regularly because I feel safe and happy here. It’s like an escape from stress.”

Magdalene Sim shared that she enjoys the sessions as well. “We get to meet new friends, communicate freely and express ourselves a lot during this time. It’s a place where I can be myself, relax and learn more about my faith and God in a comfortable environment,” said the 15-yearold.

Reach out and follow their adventures @ lifeteensfxpj on Facebook and Instagram!

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