St. Vincent de Paul Parish youth group 'fasts for the poor'
CHARLOTTE — A potluck buffet may not sound penitential, but after 30 hours of fasting the youth of St. Vincent de Paul in Charlotte were more than ready to eat. It was a well-deserved end to a full day's worth of prayer, fasting and work that the youth group looks forward to enduring each Lent.
From Friday afternoon, March 9, until 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, St. Vincent de Paul Parish's youth group observed its annual Fast for the Poor. Ruben Tamayo, director of youth ministry at St. Vincent de Paul Church, explained that the fast is intended to help the teens recall the plight of the disadvantaged during Lent.
Fast for the Poor was developed locally at St. Vincent de Paul Church to help the youths strengthen their Catholic spirituality through prayer (including Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Liturgy of the Hours, and praying the rosary, Angelus, and Stations of the Cross), fasting, and almsgiving (supporting the Missionaries of the Poor).
"A lot of people go home and don't have food. To sacrifice one thing is not that big of a deal," said one participant from Charlotte Catholic High School, adding, "We grew in our faith through Adoration and going to confession. You have to rely on God to provide."
Pictured: St. Vincent Parish's youth group observed its annual Fast for the Poor. The youths prayed, attended Mass, went to confession, played games and had small group discussions. They also did work at Missionaries of the Poor Guardian Angels Monastery in Monore. (Photos provided by Ruben Tamayo.)
Time was also set aside during the fast for contemplation and journaling, allowing the youths to reflect on their experiences and the needs of the world's poor.
Throughout the weekend, St. Vincent de Paul Parish's youth group joined together for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, following an almost monastic schedule of prayer and work.
"We had a Holy Hour, we did the Liturgy of the Hours, we had confession, we went to Mass twice," said Kevin Acken, also a sophomore at Charlotte Catholic. "My favorite part of the weekend was going to (see) the Missionaries of the Poor. I like the brothers there."
Lack of food did not tire the youths. While not at prayer, they were actively engaged in service projects – doing yard work and other chores for the Missionaries of the Poor Guardian Angels Monastery in Monroe. During their visit with the brothers, the youths listened to a talk about vocations and prayed the Stations of the Cross.
"The most challenging part of the weekend was the work, but it was probably the most fun," noted 17-year-old John Mark. And as photos from the event showed, the youths did manage to have some fun, too, despite the lack of food for the day. There were games, praise and worship music, small and large group discussions, and more.
The youth group also raised money for the Missionaries of the Poor, who minister to the poor and disadvantaged in and around Monroe.
— Charlie Jackson, intern
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