Thursday, September 23, 2021
Teresa Martinez - Florida Catholic
Photography: JONATHAN AND KARINA MARTINEZ
VIRGINIA GARDENS | Struggling with your faith, asking questions, and not knowing or understanding the answers is almost a rite of passage for teenagers. Often, teens can feel frustrated or unsure where to turn. Parents are usually not tops on their list, so where can a teen go to find a sense of belonging?
The Church, yes, but perhaps more specifically a youth group. Found in most parishes across the country, a variety of ministries to youth can be places for them to ask questions, meet like-minded teens, and deepen their connection with their faith.
At Blessed Trinity Parish in Virginia Gardens, the Life Teen and Edge youth groups are hoping to do just that.
“Life Teen’s mission is to bring teens closer to Christ,” said Mike Sokolowski, who leads the group along with his wife, Vicky. “The best way to do this is through teaching and fun social activities. To reach this goal we have scheduled various lessons, eucharistic adoration, guest speakers, movie night, concerts, etc. The diversity in activities should keep the teens engaged.”
On the heels of quarantine and with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, however, the youth group stalled nearly as soon as it began. Only a handful of teens are involved at the moment — 13 to be exact.
“In the past year, we communicated via Zoom meetings to try to maintain the continuity of our Life Teen mission,” said Vicky. “However, it just wasn’t the same, and we lost members along the way. We presented PowerPoint slides, played videos, and games to keep the teens entertained and still learning about their faith.”
Undeterred, the Life Teen leaders regrouped and prepared to welcome teens back to in-person sessions this fall. Searching for ideas and pulling on the resources offered by the national Life Teen organization, they settled on an “Office Olympics” theme for their first in-person meeting in over a year, held Sept. 12, 2021.”
Vicky said she and Mike love the series, “The Office,” which featured an “Office Olympics” in season 2, episode 3.
“The summer Olympics in Tokyo had just wrapped up so this seemed appropriate,” Vicky said. “We modified some of the activities to make them more feasible for our surroundings and current pandemic situation. The ultimate goal was to make it engaging and welcoming enough that teens will want to return for future meetings.”
Gena Escanaverino, a junior from St. Brendan High School, said a friend invited her, and at first she really did not want to go “but something in me felt like I should.”
“It really was nice. I enjoyed getting closer to others my age who want to get closer to God,” she said afterward. "I honestly really enjoyed it and if you don’t want to go for yourself take that time and go for God. It will only benefit you in the end.”
FIND OUT MORE
- Blessed Trinity’s Life Teen group is open to teenagers in ninth through 12th grades. The group meets Sundays at 6:30 p.m. and plans on having social events throughout the year.
- The Edge, for pre-teens in middle school, meets once a month.
- Find out more at [email protected].