The mission of ‘Mol An Oige’ is to fulfil our vocation within the Catholic Church in bringing faith alive through workshops, activities, games, dance, and music. Annually Up to 150 children, aged 4 – 11 participate daily, well supported by over 30 teenage role model facilitators aged between 15 and 22.
“I can go to parishes on a Sunday where I find no person in the congregation between the ages of 16 and 36. None at all”. This was the message conveyed to Pope Benedict in 2007 by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin. There can be no doubting the challenge facing the Catholic Church in Ireland in the 21st Century – reconnecting with this ‘missing generation’, showing them an alternative to the increasingly dangerous environment on their doorstep and to simply tell them the truth. You are essential to the life and continuity of your church and your community. In an effort to convey this message of truth and encourage young people to begin playing their part as ambassadors of Christ, in July 2006 Derry Search Youth Group, facilitated for the first time ‘Mol na Oige’ (Praise the Youth) a faith based summer scheme for the Three Patrons parish.
At 9am in July 2006 every morning the team gathered to pray, in preparation for the day ahead, the Galliagh Community centre was alive from 10am till 2.30pm, the theme of the weeks activities was ‘Superhero’s’ with the recognition that Jesus is the ultimate Super Hero and role model. All the activities throughout the week are interlinked to a specific Christian message or teaching, uniquely presented by the youth with a spirit of inclusiveness and affirmation. The results are evident at the closing of each day through the joyful participation in spiritual dance and song by all, both young and not so young, as their parents watch on in amazement.
As Friday approaches many of the children are reluctant to leave due to the impact of the positive relationships that had been built up, Parents are elated at the success of this venture and very complimentary of the level of care their children receive. Our vision is that this project could happen in every parish over the summer period, resources and funding would be a major factor in achieving this. Through this initiative young people find a role within their Church, passing on their faith with energy, enthusiasm and pride, and maybe the fears of Archbishop Diarmuid will be eradicated with this example of ‘Faith in Action’.
That was 15 years ago, our now annual summer scheme is booked out prior to even releasing the details, we still seek funding on a yearly basis to make this happen, one thing remains consistent, and that is the enthusiasm of the young people who help us deliver this amazing programme.