by Jenny McPhee

Praise and worship music with a beautiful Indian sound filled St Teresa’s parish hall in Riccarton on September 9, as “Jesus Youth” in Christchurch celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the founding of their movement in India. The audience was caught up in the vibrance and love of this special group. The many small children, with shy smiles and sparkling brown eyes, joined the action songs led by the dance group. The event, which ran from 5pm to 8pm, featured Mass, music, audio-visual input, testimony and other worship.

According to Jesus Youth’s New Zealand website, Jesus Youth is an international Catholic youth movement with a charismatic spirituality. It had its beginnings in Kerala (India), but is now active in some 25 different countries around the world.

Jesus Youth is an initiative of young people themselves, who, filled with the Holy Spirit, try to reach out to other young people. The strength of the movement is its special focus on a life centred on the Lord Jesus Christ: beginning with an experience of God nourished by prayer, the Word of God, the sacraments and fellowship, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others.

Though not an actual community, Jesus Youth is a network of small but vibrant groups of young people. In their own life situations, they strive to give time to the Lord, responding to the challenges of today’s world in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The movement’s first retreat in this country was in 2010 with 14 participants. The next year, a retreat in Hamilton attracted 40 young people.

Jesus Youth has undertaken a time slot of 8-12pm on Saturdays for eucharistic adoration at St Gregory’s chapel in Bishopdale in Christchurch. They also clean Sacred Heart church in Addington on a Saturday. Some members teach catechism to children for the local Kerala community.