Youth and Young Adults Ministry – On Social Media!

We would like to invite you to follow new social media profiles dedicated to youth and young adults in the Diocese of Brooklyn!

We will post actual information about youth & young adults ministry in the Diocese of Brooklyn, events, and invitations from your parishes, interesting spiritual activities, Church teaching for youth, etc.

You are invited to create content for these profiles too!

Do you want to share an invitation? Do you want to share a relation? Do you want to help as a volunteer? Just send an e-mail:

(If you want to be a volunteer, you have to be 18+)


Instagram: @bklynyouth

Religious Education Program at St. Catherine of Genoa Church, a success story

Children are gifts to parents, communities, and society. The children who participate in Sunday religious instructions at St. Catherine of Genoa parish are, indeed, special gifts to our parish. We cherish our gifts and work hard to nourish their minds and teach them the Catholic faith with their parents’ help.

The month of March marked exactly one year since we transformed religious education classes from in-person classes to online instruction in our parish. In the beginning, it was a struggle for some catechists and the families they serve, but together we smoothed out the rough waves and sailed ahead. When the new semester began in September last year, our DRE, Parents, Catechists, and the Pastor worked together through a variety of workshops to make the 2020/2021 school year a success. One of the highlights of our new school year was the parent workshops.

In December 2020, the fifth and sixth-grade students and their parents came together to discuss Friendship and Bullying: Healthy Relationships.  Last month, February 2021, the catechists, students, and parents came together again to discuss Digital Discipleship: Safe and healthy habits in online environments. Brenda Henry-Offor, one of the devoted Catechists, facilitated these two events. Parents welcomed the open forum sessions where they felt free to discuss various ideas and issues relating to the topics discussed. Students felt comfortable sharing and discussing their thoughts, fears, and other relevant issues. It was truly encouraging to watch parents discussing these topics with their children. One of the most significant outcomes of the workshops is that parents felt supported when their children accepted the guidance in the workshop that they were trying to impart at home about online safety. On both occasions, parents and students reported that they found the workshops helpful and informative. We are looking forward to future workshops using the same in-person format.

Above is a glimpse of the attendees at the second workshop with a discussion about Digital Discipleship. As cold as it was on that day in February, some parents and the children managed to attend. We had fifteen (15) attendees at the second workshop, bearing in mind that there are eleven (11) 6th  Graders and five (5) 5th Graders in our Religious  Education Program.  Twenty-four (24) people participated in the first workshop. We give thanks to the Almighty for all His mercies!


Preparation for WYD Lisbon 2023

In unity with the Local Organizing Committee Lisbon 2023, every 23rd of the month will be an occasion to pray for World Youth Day in Lisbon. We have started our spiritual preparation on 23 rd April, at San Damiano Mission, 21 Nassau Ave., Brooklyn.


The Catholic Community Shalom was a host of this meeting. In Rome members of this Community looks after the Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary “Salus Populi Romani” – symbols of WYD.

We were praying together for our spiritual preparation, for all young people from the Diocese of Brooklyn who will participate, and for all people who are preparing this meeting.

The next prayer will take place at San Damiano Mission on 23rd May. Time will be posted on our social media profiles:



Instagram: @bklynyouth

More information about WYD Lisbon you can find here:

If you need any further information, have an idea, wish to share your experience about WYD – please do not hesitate to contact me:

Rev. Emil Parafiniuk:

What Online Courses Can I Take To Deepen My Faith?

If you wanted to learn more about your faith here are a few suggestions of online courses, you can take.

Got to if you have an account you’ve been to our site and know how to log in. Sometimes your difficulty is deciding on what to take.

Teachers in a parish program or a Catholic school/academy here are our four suggestions. Having an opportunity to learn more of your faith and to be able to hand it down to your students or even your children is valuable.


21st Century Lesson Planning for Faith Formation



In this 21st century, the church is at a critical crossroads in faith formation. Parishes are losing families and faith no longer seems relevant to our youth. Young people are changing rapidly. They are learning differently and living their faith differently. How do we effectively design a person-centered faith experience that engages both the minds and hearts of young Catholics in this complex 21st century? Come with us on the journey and find out!




Learner-Centered Environment ( 4 lessons)

Thinking Backwards (4 lessons)

Aiming for Change (4 lessons)

Evaluating Success (4 lessons)

Achieving Flow (4 lessons)

Extending your Reach (4 lessons)

Flipped First Exposure (4 lessons)


Practical Spirituality for Teachers



As someone called to be a teacher, it is as a teacher that you will become holy. In this course, Fr. Thomas Dailey from the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales describes how the simple, practical wisdom of St. Francis de Sales can help you to grow in holiness through your vocation as a teacher.



Salesian Spirituality (3 reflections)

The Devout Life (2 reflections)

Becoming More Prayerful (3 reflections)

Doing the Little Virtues (3 reflections)

Teacher Temptations (3 reflections)

Never-ending Need to Know (2 reflections)


Teach Lead Serve



Teach lead to serve informs teachers as ministers, deepens their understanding of church teaching, and inspires them in their calling to catholic education. There are 15 sessions to these sessions are all relatively short with thought-provoking discussion questions, quotes, articles, and supplemental content. Each session has a video, reflection time, collaboration time, and a review.


Spirituality for Teachers and Catechists



Spirituality for teachers and catechists is an engaging, 5 part course that guides the participant along the road of holiness. The course explores the foundations of spiritual theology while offering concrete applications to help participants grow in their daily prayer life. Each lesson contains high-quality video instruction, interactive activities, and quizzes to apply the knowledge gained throughout each lesson.


The Call to Universal Holiness

Growing in the Life of Prayer

Spirituality through the Sacraments

Christ as teacher

Review and Stages of the Interior Life

St. Joseph in the Shadow of the Cross

In previous years, the Secretariat’s Lenten reflection would be a coming together in prayer and fellowship. With so many restrictions in place, and I will add for a good reason, this Lenten season, like all other moments in our lives this past year, had to be different. We hoped when we did our Virtual Advent Reflection in December 2020 that by Lent, we would be able to gather. Not wanting to leave anyone out, we went the route of virtual.

On Friday, March 19, 2021, Our Lenten Reflection premiered on our YouTube channel.  Being that this is the Year of St. Joseph and we purposefully premiered on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and our theme was “St. Joseph In the Shadow of the Cross.”

Very little is mentioned of St. Joseph in the bible, but no one can deny how important he is and what an important role he played in the life of Jesus Christ. He was a religious and humble man, who like Mary, did not question God’s will, and accept Mary as his wife. With that acceptance, he became a husband and a father. A father to no ordinary child, but a child who would bring salvation to the world.

With the thought of the different languages in our diocese, the stations of the cross and the reflections were a snapshot of our diversity. Bishop Raymond Chappetto’s reflection was in English, Bishop Octavio Cisneros in Spanish, Bishop Witold Mroziewski in Polish, Fr. Peter Bai in Chinese Mandarin, Fr. Cosmas Nzeabalu in Igbo, and Msgr. Joseph Malagreca in Haitian Creole.

Bishop Gregor Mansour’s reflection was in English, but he gave another layer of perspective from the Marion Rite. We hope that you take the opportunity to look into the Marion Rite and see how our similarities and difference still unite us.

Bishop Raymond reflects on the life of St. Joseph: Joseph was a happy man who loved Jesus and Mary so much. He loved with his whole heart. Joseph gives Jesus an example of fatherly love and compassion. Joseph speaks by his actions, not his words. Joseph teaches the church how to depend on God’s love and will.

World Youth Day, take part in this amazing adventure


Dear Brothers and Sisters!

For many years Palm Sunday was a very important day for young people all over the world – it was a World Youth Day on the diocesan level.  Let me share some mentions and news about it.

WYD is a pilgrimage followed by young people from around the world, with the Pope and their bishops. There is an experience of faith, a place of listening to the Word of God, a place of catechesis, mission, testimony, and an experience of the universality of the Church. There is an opportunity to experience the difficulty of pilgrimages (different language, climate, culture, people, as well as housing conditions) but also a joy.

(For more information you can find here – .)

The World Youth Day, as you see, is not only a festival, but also a serious spiritual commitment. To be able to gather its fruits, it is necessary to follow a path of preparation under the guidance of your Pastors in the diocese, in the parishes, in the associations, the movements and the ecclesial communities.


We must also not forget that WYD takes place in two dimensions – diocesan and worldwide. The diocesan dimension was according to the intention of Saint John Paul II, like every Palm Sunday. The Pope writes: “The V World Youth Day 1990 will be celebrated on Palm Sunday in each of your dioceses. It is precisely the diocesan Church that you must discover. The Church is not an abstract and disembodied reality. On the contrary, it is a very concrete reality: precisely, a diocesan Church gathered around the Bishop, successor of the Apostles. It is also the parish Church that you must discover, its life, its needs and the many communities that exist and work within it. You will bring to this Church the joy and the enthusiasm you have experienced in world-wide encounters like that of Santiago and in the meetings of the movements and associations to which you belong. In this concrete Church, you young people must be living and fruitful branches; you must, that is, be conscious and responsible sharers in its mission. Welcome this Church with all its spiritual riches; welcome it in the person of your Bishops, of the Priests, of the Religious and also of your brothers and sisters in the faith; welcome it with faith and with filial love.” (Message of the St. John Paul II for the 5th World Youth Day).

The message that the Holy Father announces helps us to discover the continuous (linear) character of the next World Youth Days, and the connection between WYD in the diocesan and universal dimensions.

Last year Pope Francis decided to move the local celebrations of the World Youth Day from Palm Sunday to Christ the King Solemnity. Fr. Joao Chagas (head of the youth section of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life) provides an explanation for this change here:

This year the World Youth Day at the diocesan level will no longer  take place on Palm Sunday, but on the Christ the King Solemnity (21st Nov 2021). The theme of this day announced by Pope Francis is: “Stand up. I appoint you as a witness of what you have seen.” (cf. Acts 26:16)

Next WYD at the international level is scheduled for 2023, in Lisbon, Portugal. The theme of this day, announced by Pope Francis is: “Mary arose and went with haste. (Lk 1:39)


I would like to invite all of you to take part in this amazing adventure!

The first initiative, which I would like to ask you is a prayer on the intention of the World Youth Day. When you are praying for WYD, you are praying for all young people, Pope, bishops, priests – for the Church! Prayer is at the same time the easiest and the most difficult thing for us.

We all see, that many things nowadays are difficult. Some people could say: “Who is thinking about joy, about traveling, about a pilgrimage to Portugal during this time?” But let’s try to look at this situation as a challenge. We know, that “everything is possible to one who has faith” (Mk 9:23) So let us pray together. Please, add this simple prayer to your daily devotions.


            This is an official prayer, provided by the Local Organizing Committee in Lisbon:

Our Lady of the Visitation, 

you who left in haste towards the mountain to meet Elizabeth,  

lead us also to meet all those who await us  

to deliver them the living Gospel:  

Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord! 

We will go in a hurry, with no distraction or delay,  

but with readiness and joy.  

We will go peacefully, because those who take Christ take peace,  

and well doing is the best wellbeing.  

Our Lady of the Visitation,  

with your inspiration, this World Youth Day  

will be the mutual celebration of the Christ we take, as You once did.  

Make it a time of testimony and sharing,  

fraternization, and giving thanks,  

each of us looking for the others who always wait.  

With you, we will continue on this path of gathering,  

so that our world will gather as well,  

in fraternity, justice and peace.  

Help us, Our Lady of the Visitation,  

to bring Christ to everyone, obeying the Father, in the love of the Spirit! 



For more information about WYD Lisbon you can find it here:

In the upcoming months, the Youth Office will be providing more information about WYD at the diocesan level and international (Lisbon).

If you need any further information, have an idea, wish to share your experience about WYD – please do not hesitate to contact me:

Rev. Emil Parafiniuk:


Events at Our Lady of Angels Church


El Divino Niño

In efforts to engage our community to encounter Christ- we now have a Divino Niño statue at Our Lady of Angels Church. The Divino Niño is one of the most popular depictions of the Divine Child Jesus.

The devotion to the Divino Niño, originated in Colombia. The statue of the Child Jesus with His arms beckoning and wearing a traditional pink robe has an inscription “Yo reinaré” (“I will reign”) at its base. The statue will remind families of God’s love. His arms are stretched out, just like any child who wants to be picked up. He wants us to take Him and pick him up, pressing him close to our hearts.

On the Feast of the Presentation of The Lord, our pastor, Fr. Kevin Abels blessed and installed the Divino Niño statue. The statue was donated by one of our parish families. Many families brought their own Divino Niño statues to be blessed as tradition calls for on this day.

The images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, San Juan Diego, and the Divino Niño will give Hispanic families a sense of belonging and make them feel right at home. The image of the Child Jesus will inspire family devotion and prayer. Devotion to the Divino Niño is a family tradition that is passed down through generations.


All is Calm, All is Bright! Our Lady of Angels engaging with Families 

Most of us did not expect to be social distancing for this amount of time, and we had high hopes that by the end of the year, we’d be able to spend time together in groups to celebrate. Especially, the days of the Christmas season which have so much meaning and are engraved in a child’s memory. Unfortunately, throughout the holidays we had to continue our safety precautions- but that didn’t damper the holiday spirit at Our Lady of Angels. A worldwide pandemic could not keep the Hispanic community at Our Lady of Angels from celebrating their yearly traditions of Las Posadas and Three Kings Day.

Las Posadas, a well-loved Mexican Christmas celebration, reminds us how Mary and Joseph searched for a place to stay where Mary could give birth to the Baby Jesus. In Spanish, the word “posada” means shelter or inn. In the not so distant, past, our community would gather and celebrate for nine days before Christmas. We ate tamales, sang the traditional Posada song as well as other villancicos-Christmas carols, broke piñatas, and ended the day with candy treats for the children.


Although our community is growing, we don’t yet exceed our church capacity limits, which enabled us to hold the Posadas after Mass each night. We were all socially distanced, and although we did not have the traditional food and piñatas, we had the heart of the celebration -the song reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s struggle. Traditionally, a group sings outside, while another group remains indoors, but in this case, we sang from opposite pews. This went on for nine nights. Our children got the chance to engage with their community in an adapted version of a faith-inspiring tradition.

El Dia de Reyes, Three Kings’ Day is another one of our beloved holidays. We didn’t think we could do it, but again we are blessed with a large auditorium and a strong sense of community. Once again, all social distancing efforts were put in place. Our usual donor, a local bakery, prepared an individually wrapped traditional pastry “Rosca de Reyes” for each parishioner. Although we didn’t have our usual Three Kings Day skit, piñatas, and food, the heart of the celebration was maintained- each child was acknowledged with a gift and a wonderful memory.

Our pastor, Fr. Kevin Abels introduced another event that we hope will become a tradition. The lights were dimmed at the conclusion of Christmas Day Mass allowing the holiday lighting to illuminate the church. As we sat in awe, contemplating the Nativity and the real meaning of Christmas, Noche de Paz- Silent Night- played in the background. We were all reminded that all is calm- Christ our Savior is born.

At Our Lady of Angels, families were engaged in celebrating faith, love and hope in times of a pandemic. We kept in mind that with God all things are possible. Although we were socially distanced, we came together to keep the spirit of Christmas alive for our community. The Hispanic Community Advisory Committee is already at task planning how to bring the community together in Christ for the rest of the year!

Homeschool program for Religious education

Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach has offered a homeschool program for Religious education for the past several years, so we were ready when faced with COVID restrictions! The whole program is based on the homeschool model this year, and our parents have really embraced the role of catechist for their children. This has become such a special time for families to deepen their faith while teaching their children about the life of Jesus and His love. Quiet time is set aside for these teachable moments, away from the pressure of remote learning and Google classrooms.

Our pastor, Fr. Marc Swartvagher, invites parents to virtual meetings every week so that we may “see” each other. Parents have this opportunity to ask questions about how the material should be presented, and Fr. Marc is happy to answer them. He also hosts a meeting with a prayer for both parents and children, and those have been wonderful! We’ve prayed the Rosary together in October, talked about and showed our favorite saints in November, and discovered the meaning behind the well-known Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in December. We are looking forward to our upcoming Lenten prayer service in February.

Our 2nd graders are preparing for First Holy Communion and spent special time with Jesus at Holy Hour. They had the option to attend in person or watch the live stream at home to learn more about the Eucharist and adoration. Fr. Marc explained it so beautifully for those attending for the first time. We are hoping to have more of these experiences with the rest of our families!


For more information contact us at our website.

St. Joseph’s Table

The St. Joseph’s Table altar at the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles.


While looking into how a family can celebrate The Year of St. Joseph at home, I stumbled upon, “St. Joseph’s Table”. I found this to be interesting mostly because I never heard of it. The feast day of St. Joseph is March 19th. This falls in the middle of Lent. As I continued to read I understood why the “table” was mostly pastries and bread. There is no meat at the table because it falls during Lent. 

Tradition comes from medieval times in Sicily. The story goes that there had been a great drought and famine on the island. The people prayed to St. Joseph for his intercession. When the sky opened, and rain finally came the people knew St. Joseph had answered their pleas. Their crops grew. After the harvest to show gratitude to St. Joseph and to honor him for answering their prayers they celebrated. The celebration included everyone. A table was prepared with special foods in honor of St. Joseph. The food was also shared with all the people, especially the poor and hungry. 

The tradition has changed in many ways, usually if celebrated at church, the celebration would be after mass. Some parishes were known to have actors dress as Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. They would bring offerings during mass and at the celebration, they would sit at the table. With Covid, sharing with others and gathering has made it difficult. That does not mean that you can’t celebrate at home. You can continue a tradition if this is done in your family or adopt the tradition if this is your first time. 

Involve your children or teens and anyone in your household. What a better way to tell the story of St. Joseph the foster father of our Savior chosen to protect Mary and Jesus. He was chosen to witness the birth of the Christ child. While very little is spoken of Joseph in the bible he plays an important role. He is another example to our children to have faith in God’s divine plan. This is the perfect family project. Teaching your children through tradition and symbolism. The quality of family time together is also great. 

There are 3 main points to this tradition: 

Veneration—special recognition of St. Joseph. Honoring the silent foster father of our Lord Jesus. He protected our Mother Mary and our Saviour. 

The Table—an altar and a communal celebration for gathering 

The Poor—The purpose of the foods is to help those in need. 


St. Joseph’s Table at home 


The create the table/altar at home you will need a three-tiered display. This can be made out of boxes and cover with a white linen tablecloth or sheet. The three tiers represent the Holy Trinity. A statue or picture of St. Joseph is placed on the top tier. The other can have flowers (especially Lilies). You buy them or make flowers out of tissue paper with your children. The other two tiers also have candles, pastries, and bread. Some people add wine symbolizing the wedding feast at Cana; pineapple symbolizing hospitality; and other fruits. 

You can make pastries with your children, and decorate the table together. How simple or ornate your “table/alter” is totally up to you. 

The items below are traditionally made from bread, but they can be made from cookie dough or even small pictures. How you display each symbol is completely up to you and your family. 

A Cross: The ultimate symbol of our Lord’s suffering and salvation. 

Breadcrumbs: Represents sawdust, since St. Joseph was a carpenter. 

Fava Beans: They can be served in a frittata or garlic sauce. If you have dry beans, they can be roasted and blessed. It became very popular as the “lucky bean.” Legend has it that you will never be broke if you carry one. Some people believe that if you keep one in the pantry, there will always be food in the kitchen. 

Baby Jesus: The baby Jesus to whom St. Joseph was the foster father. It can be a statue or a picture, even a drawing/coloring page that your younger children worked on. 

St. Joseph’s Staff: Legend has it that St. Joseph’s staff blossomed into a lily, a symbol both of life and death. 

St. Joseph’s Purse: This symbol is a reminder to give alms to the poor during Lent. A small pouch with coins for symbolism or even a jar where spare change can be collected and given to your parish at the end of Lent. 

A Sheaf of Wheat: Wheat is a reminder that when a single grain of wheat falls into the ground it bears much more food at harvest time. 

St. Joseph himself: He is always represented in profile and hunched over with a cane, symbolizing that he was (according to tradition) an old man, while Mary was a much younger woman. 

St. Joseph’s Beard: Is the sheaf of Wheat turned upside down, it is another reminder of Joseph’s wisdom and old age. 

Heart: A symbol of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

The Crown of Thorns: This is in remembrance of Christ’s passion and a reminder of the day’s feasting among Lent’s fasting, Lent is still a season of sorrow—and hope. 

In a time when we need to church, and we want to continue to pass our faith to our children the “Table” is a wonderful place to start. 

Happy Feast of St. Joseph! 

Total Consecration to St. Joseph

From the Office of Marriage, Family Life and Respect Life Education 

Just as Jesus and Mary entrusted themselves entirely to the care and protection of St. Joseph as the head of the Holy Family, so too can we follow their example. “Jesus, living under the roof of St. Joseph and being his Son, gave us a personal example of total entrustment to St. Joseph” (Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC). 

Why Consecration to St. Joseph? When one makes an act of consecration to a saint, it is made ultimately to God through the help of the saint. We know that Joseph was a lowly carpenter, betrothed to Mary, a just man, ever ready to carry out God’s will. Blessed Pius IX declared St. Joseph “Patron of the Catholic Church.” Venerable Pius XII proposed him as “Patron of Workers.” Saint John Paul II called him “Guardian of the Redeemer.” St. Joseph is universally invoked as the “Patron of a Happy Death.” After Mary, the Mother of God, no saint is mentioned more frequently in the papal magisterium than Joseph, her spouse. (Pope Francis, Patris Corde). 

Ideally, families and groups could organize themselves to make the consecration together. Fr. Calloway’s book includes material for six weeks of group meetings leading up to the consecration. On the final day, a simple ceremony could be planned where the group recites the consecration prayer together led by their pastor or parochial vicar following the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

To make a 33-day consecration, we recommend that you use the new book Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. 



O Glorious Patriarch and Patron of the Church! O Virgin Spouse of the Virgin Mother of God! O Guardian and Virginal Father of the Word Incarnate! In the presence of Jesus and Mary, I choose you this day to be my father, my guardian, and my protector. 

O great St. Joseph, whom God has made the Head of the Holy Family, accept me, I beseech you, though utterly unworthy, to be a member of your “Holy House.” Present me to your Immaculate Spouse; ask her also to adopt me as her child. With her, pray that I may constantly think of Jesus, and serve him faithfully to the end of my life. O Terror of Demons, increase in me virtue, protect me from the evil one, and help me not to offend God in any way. 

O my Spiritual Father, I hereby consecrate myself to you. In faithful imitation of Jesus and Mary, I place myself and all my concerns under your care and protection. To you, after Jesus and Mary, I consecrate my body and soul, with all their faculties, my spiritual growth, my home, and all my affairs and undertakings. 

Forsake me not, but adopt me as a servant and child of the Holy Family. Watch over me at all times, but especially at the hour of my death. Console and strengthen me with the presence of Jesus and Mary so that, with you, I may praise and adore the Holy Trinity for all eternity. Amen.