By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
MOUNT PLEASANT — Love was in the air at St. Alphonsus Parish the weekend before Valentine’s Day. But it was the love of fellowship that really hit the sweet spot at a party for youths and families Feb. 12, following the late morning Sunday Mass.
On one side of the parish hall, youths passed around a cellophane ball with candy, movies and card games wrapped inside. The Pinterest-worthy piñata of sorts released the goodies onto the floor as each youth unwrapped a little bit of the ball. Afterward, the youths respectfully divvied up the treats, according to Robert Wamer, organizer and former youth and outreach ministry coordinator for the parish. The youths also played card games and participated in a cake walk.
On the other side of the hall, their parents socialized and had cake and coffee.
St. Alphonsus has been aspiring to include parents and families in youth ministry activities, be it social, service or faith-oriented. The Valentine’s party was intended to be just such an event, and the after-Mass scheduling helped make it easier for families to stop by, he said. Last year, youths and adults volunteered together at a food bank and had other fun and fellowship opportunities.
Wamer believes that youths are more likely to retain their faith as adults if they see their parents participating in church activities. “If we want the kids, we have to have the parents. You need to have a strong family program. … it gives the youth a firmer grounding in their faith and therefore we have a better chance of keeping them as they go off into the secular world.”