What's driving a youth movement in Miami churches? Not just prayer -- but 'action'

Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald on

Published in Religious News

But tech has also brought new challenges, including persuading people to put down their tablets and go to in-person worship, pastors say. COVID-19 also didn’t help, with Christian leaders noticing an increase in social anxiety among young people.

While not delivering sermons in memes and emojis, some parish leaders have found ways to bring younger people to their doors, through young adult nights of worship, Bible studies, and social activities including sports games and salsa classes.

Here are some places that have found ways to connect youth with Christ:

‘Faith in action’

St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables focuses on teaching and helping young adults build a relationship with Christ.

“It’s a lot of faith in action,” said the Rev. Richard Vigoa, the church pastor. “When you come here to St. Augustine, it’s not a bystander type of faith, but a faith that is engaged in and serving the other.”


Earlier this month, more than 300 people — parents, kids, college students, seniors — gathered inside St. Augustine’s parish hall on April 1 with a goal to package 40,000 boxes of food. It looked like the Easter Bunny’s workshop, but instead of painting eggs, people were bagging, weighing and boxing soy, rice, veggies and beans.

“We’re giving up of our time, we’re giving up of our energy — there’s plenty of other things in Miami to be doing on a Friday night — and yet we’re here, we’re packaging food,” said 19-year-old Marcel van Hemert, the vice president of UCatholic, UM’s Catholic ministry. “We’re helping out our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate.”

It’s that type of spirit that drew Juliana Warsaw to bring her daughters to help out.

Her goal, she says, is to teach 8-year-old Grace and 5-year-old Gabrielle the importance of helping those in need. For Warsaw, it’s also a chance of reconnecting with her faith.


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