Our Youth

Black Teens Prepare For Leadership Roles

Seminarian Dwayne Davis speaks to teenagers from 10 parishes who gathered in St. Bonaventure parish, Jamaica, for a Leadership Conference conducted by the diocese’s Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns. Young people participated in seminars that dealt with leadership skills, spirituality, and job preparation.

More than 80 young people from 10 parishes attended the  annual Youth and Young Adult Leadership Conference conducted at St. Bonaventure Church, Jamaica, by the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns.

The leadership conference began in 2008 to expose inner-city youth and young adults to various leadership and success skills as well as to assist them in developing a deeper relationship with God and the Church.

It provides young people with an opportunity to observe clergy as well as presidents and VPs of diverse backgrounds working for the one mission of building up the Church and world, preparing leaders for the present and the future.

The day began with prayer and ice breakers lead by seminarian Dwayne Davis, after which each participant was able to choose between two breakout sessions: Leadership and Spirituality led by seminarian David Athanasius from the Diocese of Rockville Centre; and College Forum and Success Skills led by Davis from Brooklyn who also serves as president of the National Black Catholic Seminarians Association.

Later, the participants gathered to hear Brother Gregory McMullen speak on Public Presence and Relationships.  Brother Gregory impressed upon the youth not to let negative influences guide their paths but rather they should look to Christ for all beings are created in the image and likeness of God. The session with Brother Gregory was one of the high points of the day in that the young people where able to relate and share some of their stories which were very moving for all.
The keynote speaker was Father Chris Piasta, O.F.M., a Franciscan priest who is administrator of St. Joseph’s Church, Jamaica; chaplain of Our Lady of the Skies Chapel at John F. Kennedy International Airport; and adjunct professor at St. John’s University. He spoke about the various types of communication and how important communication is in everyday life.

The final breakout session focused on purpose, mission and vocation as it relates to males and females. The youth were divided into male and female groups. The young men had a question-and-answer interaction  with retired Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq; Father Kevin Abels, diocesan vocation director; and the seminarians.

The young ladies had a session with Angela Lewis, director of religious education at St. Bonaventure/St. Benedict the Moor parish, Jamaica.

The day ended with a Holy Hour and rally with Bishop  Sansaricq and the Jovenes de Valor band.  The youngsters were encouraged to spend time with the Lord, adoring and praising Him.

Seminarian Mark Bistol also gave a powerful witness talk.

Overall, the day was spirit-filled and it provided the young people with encouragement to aspire to become leaders now and in the future.