GIFT at Newcastle
A simplified GIFT programme (Growing In Faith Together) has been successful in Newcastle parish and the team has offered to share it with other parishes in the Diocese, if they wish to use this model. The GIFT programme is based on the work of Maura Hyland which was previously adapted by the Youth Commission and has now been updated by the team in Newcastle.
On the GIFT programme young people will take part in fun activities, pray together, discuss various topics such as friendship, gifts and relationships and will have a positive experience of belonging to the Catholic Church and their own parish. The programme is facilitated by a core group of five main leaders Brenda, Orla, Anthony, Fr Jim and Fr Declan with the help of parent leaders and other adult volunteers who have training and support in how to share our faith in a fun and age appropriate way. Young people who have completed the programme return as youth leaders/mentors, which can link to the PJPII Award.
After the leaders’ training, the programme runs for 6 weeks with each year group between years 8 – 11. In GIFT 1, the focus is remembering our confirmation and developing unique God given gifts and talents. GIFT 2 looks more at caring for ourselves and learning new skills in life. GIFT 3 begins to look more deeply at how we can share our faith, through a guided retreat, within our local Church, in our parish and in local nursing homes. Finally, GIFT 4 looks towards the Universal Church when we spend time exploring our Catholic heritage on a pilgrimage to Rome.
The Youth Director recently visited the 5th session of GIFT 1 in Newcastle during which the young people tossed pancakes, did a tour of the various parts of their Church and learnt the hymns for their final parish Mass. As well as the 35 year 8s there were 12 volunteers. The young people had great fun tossing pancakes and then eating them and then settled down and showed great respect when they visited the Church visited. They sat in the confession boxes, peered into the baptismal font and visited the sacristy where one of the parish priests showed them how the ashes were prepared for Ash Wednesday and showed us all a rope trick with a cincture which none of us could master. All of the young people and the leaders took part in the singing, which included contemporary worship music, and the sound was beautiful.