Faith In Action through Civic Engagement

lya-star07/15-20/12 – Lewiston, NY ­ On Sunday, July 15th, the beautiful campus of Niagara University in Lewiston, NY was filled with the sounds of students and Lasallian Youth moderators arriving from all over the District of Eastern North America to begin a week of faith sharing, participation in Gospel service and being together and in association with one another at the Lasallian Youth Summer Assembly 2012. (LYA)

The schools participating in LYA’12 are: Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Brooklyn, NY; Central Catholic, Pittsburgh, PA; Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, NJ; La Salle Academy, NYC; La Salle Academy, Providence, RI; Saint John’s College High School, Washington, DC; Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Buffalo, NY; Saint Mary Magdalene Parish, Springfield Gardens, NY; Saint Peter’s High School, Staten Island, NY; Saint Raphael Academy, Pawtucket, RI; Trinity High School, Manchester, NH and West Catholic, Philadelphia, PA.

The theme set for LYA’12 was: Faith In Action through Civic Engagement. Throughout the week, the participants were involved in student-led prayer services, service activities, group discussions and various presentations around the theme of the assembly.

After a fantastic welcome dinner the students participated in a series of icebreakers organized by the delegation from Bishop Loughlin High School. At the first large group gathering of the LYA ’12, Mrs. Maryann Donohue-Lynch, Associate Executive Director for Mission and Ministry for DENA and the coordinator of the assembly, welcomed everyone and had each school delegation introduce themselves and share something about their school.

Father Jim Bastian from Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute celebrated the Eucharist in the Alumni Chapel for the LYA participants. Saint Joe’s served as the host school for the assembly and we were all very grateful for their efforts under the coordination of Deacon Bill Walkowiak.

After Mass, Dr. David Taylor and Deacon Bill presented to the group regarding the community service activities planned for the week. You could sense the excitement in the air as each site was discussed and the students and moderators received their service placements!

The participants were engaged in three days of community service at numerous sites around the Niagara Falls-Buffalo region. The sites were the Western New York Food Bank, St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy (a mission serving meals to their 300-400 guests daily), Kids of the Kingdom (a summer camp for local neighborhood children), Nativity-Miguel School, Heart, Love and Soul (a community center that services the downtown of Niagara Falls), Our Lady of Peace (Nursing Home), Community Missions of Niagara Frontier (a community center serving the west end of the city of Niagara Falls) and Sustainable Sandals (this ministry recycles the sandals from the Cave of the Winds tourist attraction at Niagara Falls and sends them to missions all over the world.)

Tuesday evening, the music ministry from the St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy performed a concert for the assembly attendees. It was an evening of inspiration while offering those in attendance the opportunity to witness to their service experiences and how they have seen their faith come alive through their actions.

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Bob Scott, AFSC, and Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute hosted a reception for the assembly. All were treated to a “Buffalo fare” of chicken wings and pizza! However, the night’s primary focus was the keynote presentation by Andrew Beiter, an alum of Saint Joe’s, who addressed the group with great enthusiasm and encouraged all gathered to make a difference in their world. Andrew shared a simple “formula:” choose something you are passionate about, add to that a talent you have, and that will equal a way for you to make a difference! Saint John Baptist de La Salle was used an the focal inspiration for the presentation.

Throughout the week the young people received great presentations from Dana Rose, Admissions at Manhattan College and Br. Ed Hofmann FSC, Admissions at La Salle University (a sponsor of the assembly). This provided a great opportunity for those present to hear about our outstanding Lasallian colleges and universities.

Thursday was the annual excursion day where the students had a unique opportunity to visit Niagara Falls and ride the Maid of the Midst and visit the Cave of the Winds! It was a wonderful week and a great opportunity for all involved to build community, serve our brothers and sisters and witness to our faith through our shared Lasallian mission.