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Hispanic Apostolate starts new group for youth

Grupo para Jovenes
►  Que: Grupo para los jóvenes y jóvenes adultos Hispano
► Quando: Todos los viernes de 7-9 p.m.
► Donde: Apostolado Hispano, 2525 Maine Ave., Metairie.
► INFORMACIÓN: llamar Carlina Doubleday al Apostolado Hispano a 467-2550.

Giving youth and young adults productive activities in a safe environment is what parents seek.
   That’s what the Hispanic Apostolate of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans heard recently from Spanish-speaking parents attending a synod consultative session with Archbishop Gregory Aymond. And, the apostolate quickly responded.
   Dominican Friar Sergio Serrano, director of the Hispanic Apostolate, hired Carlina Doubleday as the director of the new Hispanic Apostolate Pastoral Youth Ministry for Spanish-speaking children of all faiths.
   Only started at the end of July, more than 30 youth and young adults have come out on Fridays for discussions about faith and life, games and activities and refreshments. An early gathering featured inflatables, soccer, volleyball and water play.
   “It’s growing,” Doubleday said. “We are putting a lot into it with our main focus on Jesus, so youth come to meet him.”    
   Doubleday has created two age groups: an adolescent youth group for ages 10-17, and a young adult group for ages 18-35. And, she’s already organized a field trip to a water park and hopes to add a service component soon and coordinate helpful meetings that involve teaching proper dining manners to youth. A recreation room for youth and young adults will soon be created “just to have a home where they can go anytime.”
Adult leaders
   Doubleday has a background working with youth. She said she has assisted at the schools of her children – now adults – and has been an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at the Teen Mass at Visitation of Our Lady, among her youth-related activities.
   “It’s been a calling,” she said.
   Friar Serrano recently sent her for additional youth training through the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI) and to Theology of the Body for Teens through the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
   “I have gained the formative on how to be a coordinator of pastoral youth groups – my true responsibilities,” Doubleday said. “Evangelization, mission and meeting Christ are our main focus.”
   The Hispanic Apostolate’s Father Luis Henao also helped recruit adult couples and young adults previously involved with youth groups for Spanish-speaking children to assist the newly formed youth groups. Spanish-speaking deacons and the new seminarians from Colombia studying at Notre Dame Seminary also have helped out.
   To keep parents abreast of the groups’ progress, three meetings have been held with them, Doubleday said, and monthly meetings with parents are planned. Parents are invited to stay at the weekly youth activities, and Doubleday hopes some catechesis for parents will be added to help them teach their children to know God and encourage Mass attendance.
   Doubleday said the new groups are important to the Latino youth, especially those who had trouble adapting to CYO groups in parishes due to the language barrier. The Hispanic Apostolate’s group is held all in Spanish, although Doubleday said she translates for those who don’t speak Spanish fluently.
   She wants youth to know that they have a voice in making decisions about group activities – something she learned from SEPI. Already, the youth have decided that instead of a Halloween party at the center, members would dress up in costume but visit Children’s Hospital to make sick children happy.
   “These are their ideas, and this is their group,” Doubleday said.
   “My hope for the youth group is to change hearts so that they can meet Jesus,” Doubleday said. “I want them to know that joy I have in my heart and to know that God is with them. I also hope to develop strong leaders for the community.”
   Doubleday said she’s already noticed several of the teens blossoming as the weeks have gone by.
    “I can see them blooming from not saying anything to wanting to be leaders,” she said.
            The groups meet at the Hispanic Apostolate, 2525 Maine Ave., Metairie on Fridays from 7-9 p.m. Call Doubleday at 467-2550

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