Diocesan News

Bright Christmas Fund Boosts Youth Ministry in the Diocese

ROSEDALE — The Tablet’s Bright Christmas Fund has made the Christmas season a little more cheerful for Lauren Barriteau, 16, a parishioner of St. Clare Catholic Church, Rosedale, and a member of the parish’s youth ministry group.

Funding from Bright Christmas makes up about half of the youth ministry’s annual budget, and this year, it allowed the group to hold its first-ever “Christmas Ball,” which was held in the auditorium of the parish’s school on Dec. 14. Barriteau was at the party.

Youth ministry member Lauren Barriteau at St. Clare’s first ever “Christmas Ball.” (Photos: Wandy Felicita Ortiz)

“I eventually developed a bond with the people here because I liked the environment I was in. I saw what we do and how it helps me get involved and get deeper with my faith,” Lauren said.

“I’m still opening up, and it’s helping me get out there a little bit more with my feelings,” she said. “I want to be here. I feel like I’m a happier person.”

Peter Damour, St. Clare’s youth minister, notes that events like the Christmas Ball give young people a place to call their own.

“Kids don’t have a space to actually be themselves other than school,” Damour said. “So they have the parish and the youth ministry to be there, to do what they want to do.” 

Damour, 21, said that he has seen young people struggle with  feelings of inadequacy and depression. The youth ministry is a safe space for them to navigate those tough situations and know that they are not alone, he said.

The welcoming environment at St. Clare’s can continue on in part because of the Bright Christmas Fund. Last year, the youth ministry received a $5,000 grant through The Tablet. 

With the funding, the youth ministry can provide holiday gifts, and reward members for service and discipleship. Recently, the ministry was able to purchase a television as a tool for education and evangelization, helping to inculcate Catholic values.

Al and Stacey Williamson are already seeing those values at work in the lives of their youngest children —  Karra, 8, and Aden, 7, both of whom attend St. Clare Catholic Academy and go to parish events like the Christmas Ball. 

Karra Williamson (center) participates in a Christmas-themed relay race during the St. Clare’s Christmas Ball.

“It’s a great thing,” Mr. Williamson said. “There are sports and other things like this, other activities. But to see them involved in the church and in the ministry is a great feeling, because I know [they are] headed in the right direction.” 

“I like Jesus, I respect Jesus,” Karra said. 

By contributing to the Bright Christmas Fund, donors are giving teens like Lauren a safe place to be herself, little girls like Karra the opportunity to deepen her faith and young adults like Peter a chance to guide young people on their faith journey. 

For the first time, you can now donate to the fund online by going to thetablet.org. Or you can contribute the old-fashioned way by writing a check to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas Fund and mailing it to:

The Tablet

c/o of Jorge I. Dominguez-Lopez

1712 10th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11215.