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'Informal Association of Suspicious Characters'

John McMahon, faith formation director, Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction (front row, right), poses with some of the program’s participants. (Submitted photo) John McMahon, faith formation director, Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction (front row, right), poses with some of the program’s participants.
By John McMahon
Faith formation director at Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish, Essex Junction

ESSEX JUNCTION--Ever since I saw the relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio in Poland last summer, I have been referring to our group as the “Informal Association of Suspicious Characters.” We haven’t really advertised the name as much as we should, but that is what I think of it as.
 
Our group meets on alternating Thursday nights at St. Pius X Church. Now that our regular sessions are concluded for the year, we plan to meet three or four times during the summer for some special events like a canoe trip and hike.
 
The previous youth group here had pretty much dissolved the previous year after a large group graduated from high school. To restart, several changes were made in the fall. For example, we had meals together every other time during the sessions. I also made a commitment to put a lot more planning time into the planning of the sessions. Because we were starting from the ground floor and most of the kids didn’t know each other well, we spent a lot of time getting to know one another.  Then we had serious discussions fairly regularly. We had 28 kids come to our opening night. But, the numbers shrank over the months & school kicked in. By the end, we had established a core group of 10-12 with another five or six that come when they can.
 
Our mission is to create a space for our high school youth that allows them to have fun, build solid trusting relationships with other kids they might not get to know in school and discuss matters of depth that shape who they are and are becoming (faith, family relationships, current events, etc.).
 
The team is composed of Andrew Coulter, Edmundite Father Lino Oropeza, Elissa Lee, Sean Siemen and me.
 
A typical session includes prayer, games, a YouTube segment, discussion and meal.
 
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