Teens, Twitter and Eucharist: A Good Mix
by Amy Barber, Youth Minister, Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Gainesville, Florida
When Amy Barber’s Pathfinders Middle School Youth Group began a new year, she wanted them to incorporate “tons of new technology that would help the students grow in knowledge and faith. Youth Group was going to be a Catholic version of all the cool technologies that the students are used to using in their everyday life. We would text prayers and share through our new Ning Pathfinders website.”
The students at Queen of Peace Catholic Community, Gainsville, FL, greeted her idea with skepticism. “They looked at me like I was crazy. What did I mean, merging the technology of the secular world with the ‘church’ world?” she said. But, in the end, she won them over.
She had them using the internet to research topics such as prayers, saints and church history. They used Twitter as the basis for prayer. Each student received a 3×5 note card to make up a Twitter name and write a short prayer using only 140 characters, just like a Tweet. The prayers were posted on a Twitter board and shared with others. They made a second board for people who were sick and prayers from both boards were used during Adoration.
Another project involved students making videos to tell their stories digitally. These were posted on YouTube and shared with students at their sister parish in Brazil. “The students highlighted the things about Queen of Peace that meant the most to them. They chose music that was created by the musicians from the parish. They focused on the people in the parish, spending time together in both worship and social situations,” she explained.
“Then we waited. The kids were so excited when the students in Brazil sent a movie back. Their movie was about their novena with music, parading through the streets of the town and finally to the church where they had Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. My students didn’t know what that was. The Holy Spirit was on the move!” They had their pastor explain Exposition and Adoration. He did so to 47 middle schoolers, who sat spellbound in absolute silence!
“Through all the lesson plans and wonderful teachers, our youth group began to really form a small group of Catholics sharing their experiences. They are sharing thoughts and questions about their faith. We have a new weekly blog set up especially written for middle school students.”