.- On November 23rd, a group of 17 Arizona-based students returned from a three-week long trip to Northern Ireland to spread the message of their faith. According to the Archdiocese of Phoenix, “Leaders of Youth Arise North America, a six-month school of evangelization based in Tempe, plugged into existing ecumenical programs that are working to end years of violence and hatred between Catholics and Protestants.”
The Youth Arise participants range in age from 18-30 and come from across the country to participate in the six-month program, which climaxes with the mission trip. During their six months, the students participate in theological and spiritual formation, daily prayer, daily mass and Bible study. According to the Archdiocese of Phoenix, “In exchange, participants sacrifice personal freedoms for the sake of communal living. They share dormitory-style rooms and rely on Youth Arise to meet their personal needs, expenses included in the school’s $6,000 tuition.”
David “Q” Quintana, one of the staffers the youth worked with in Belfast said Youth Arise’s love for the Church “is quite helpful for the work here in West Belfast because most of the young people here aren’t that Christian or that Catholic.”
While in Ireland, the group worked in some of the most impoverished areas of Belfast and it’s suburbs, organizing and assisting with retreats and other activities for youth of the area, both Protestant and Catholic.
“You’re looking up to these guys and seeing how Christ has worked in their lives and maybe they’ll [Irish students] want Christ to work in their own lives as well,” said 16-year old Blaine Douglas, one of the local youth. “I don’t think it matters that they’re Catholic,” he added.
The school was formed 4 years ago in response to Pope John Paul II’s call for a New Evangelization by “bolstering Catholics’ knowledge of the Church and encouraging a personal relationship with Christ.”