In partnership with Trócaire ,the Elphin diocese invites parish and Post-Primary school communities to evolve a simple partnership by way of encouraging and supporting interested Transition Year /Fifth Year students play a valued role in their parish and / or school community as Lenten Youth Ambassadors.
WHAT IS A LENTEN YOUTH AMBASSADOR?
A Transition Year/ Fifth Year Student who, between mid-January and late-March 2023, is willing:
- to come along to a school-day event (10 – 3 pm), meet young people from other schools and parishes, adult parish volunteers and Trócaire personnel, and spend the day learning about Global Justice and the work of Trócaire.
- is willing to represent Trócaire and the work that Trócaire and their partners do to support people facing huge challenges and injustices in their lives.
- is willing, with appropriate support from a teacher / chaplain (in terms of school initiatives) and /or pre-identified Adult Parish Volunteers (parish initiatives), to highlight Trócaire’s Lenten Campaign in their school and /or parish.
The primary advancement of this initiative will be through a choice of two educational days led by Trócaire and diocesan personnel. The first of these will take place in Kilbride Community Centre, Co. Roscommon, on Thursday, 18th January 2024, serving schools and parishes in the southern end of the Elphin diocese, and the second, in The Gillooly Hall, Sligo, on Monday, 22nd January 2024, serving schools and parishes in the northern end.
Both days (10 – 3 pm) will culminate in:
- an invitation to participating students to be part of a team that will support Trócaire’s Lenten Campaign in their parish and / or school community,
- willing students identifying a few concrete ways they could help raise awareness,
- a commissioning ceremony,
and back in the parishes / school
- interested students, with adult support, exercising their gifts and competencies in favour of agreed initiatives.
We are particularly keen that students experience the initiative as an opportunity to exercise their gifts and abilities in their parish communities and that their experience will help them recognise that they are valued members of their parish communities.
Time spent as a Lenten Youth Ambassador may also be put toward a St. Pope John Paul II Award. Those who undertake related activities will also receive a special certificate.
FIRST STEP / ONLINE INFORMATION MEETINGS
During November 2023 we hosted two online Information Meetings via Zoom to foster awareness of this initiative among clergy, parish pastoral council members, potential adult volunteers and school personnel, e.g. principals, deputy principals, TY and Religious Education Co-ordinators, Religious Education teachers.
Adults who missed these need not be concerned. Please contact Justin Harkin (contact details below) and he will be happy to respond to your questions.
NEXT & REMAINING STEPS
To date we have had expressions of interest from the following parishes: Maugherow, Drumcliffe, St. Joseph’s & Calry, Rosses Point, Boyle, Croghan, Elphin, Strokestown, Ballygar and St. Peter & Paul’s (Athlone). We are keen that more would adopt this initiative as part of its youth strategy.
Where a parish opts to adopt this initiative the following steps will apply:
- Parish Pastoral Council or others to support parish clergy recruit two or more Adult Parish Volunteers to journey with their Transition / Fifth Year students (this needs to be prioritized now)
- Parish Pastoral Council / Parish Priest to write to school(s) attended by teenage parishioners requesting that an invitation be extended to students from the parish to participate in the educational day for their region of the diocese (see bold text above).
- Adult Volunteers to undertake Safeguarding Training incorporating application for Garda Vetting (if not already trained and vetted)
- 8 – 10 pm on Wednesday 10th January in Summerhill College, Sligo,
- 8 – 10 pm on Monday 15th January in Hannon’s Hotel, Athlone Road, Roscommon.
* If the number of adults presenting for training in either venue does not exceed eight the diocese will explore the possibility of dropping one of the above meetings and of relocating the other to a central venue for all participants.
- 8 – 10 pm on Wednesday 10th January in Summerhill College, Sligo,
Should school communities (many principals and teachers are supportive) and Transition Year / Fifth Year students from the parish accept the invitation to become involved, then the following are to meet at the above Education days:
- participating students (representing both their parish and their school),
- an accompanying adult from their school community, e.g. Religion Teacher
- a minimum of two Adult Parish Volunteers from each participating parish
At the end of this day, should students opt to be commissioned as Lenten Youth Ambassadors (historically all do), students and Adult Parish Volunteers will agree on two additional parish-based meetings to support initiatives that they agree upon.
PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN BY STUDENTS in 2021/2022 & 2022/2023
- Creation of visual displays in churches and schools,
- Presentations at Masses,
- Promotion of Trócaire’s Lenten social media campaign through students’ own networks
- Raising awareness with junior cycle students in schools,
- Fundraisers – Cake Sale, Football Blitz, School and parish showings of the movie, The Letter,
- Presentations to Primary School children.
THE ROLE OF THE ADULT PARISH VOLUNTEER (2 or more persons)
The primary role of each Adult Parish Volunteer is to journey with the Lenten Youth Ambassadors of their parish from the educational day until completion of the ambassadors chosen initiative(s) before Palm Sunday (24th March 2024).
This journey includes:
1) undertaking safeguarding training and Garda vetting (if not undertaken already)
2) participating in the educational day with students
3) being a friendly presence
4) assisting the ambassadors determine one or two manageable projects
5) ensuring that safeguarding requirements are met when ambassadors gather to progress projects
6) affirming and praising work undertaken
7) facilitating ambassadors access any additional help that may be required.
As most TY students are competent and talented people who have other commitments it is not envisaged that Lenten Youth Ambassadors and Adult Parish Volunteers will meet on more than two or three occasions.
The diocese and Trócaire appreciate that parishes and schools will require supporting documentation, e.g. template letters to support recruitment of parish volunteers, letters from parish priests / parish administrators to school principals, information for parents of teenagers and related permission slips. These can be requested from Deacon William or Justin (see contact details below).
Pastoral & Faith Dev. Services
Deacon William Gacquin
Diocesan Trócaire Representative