Winnipeg youth turn their digital creativity to evangelization

08 March 2019

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

A new movement is beginning at the Archdiocese of Winnipeg and it’s looking for young creatives to take up this project with them.

“The Holy Spirit is updating our iOS in the way that we evangelize,” said John Acosta, youth and young adult co-ordinator for the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.

“It’s in the way that we are looking at and reaching out to the young people now. We’ve been so good at reaching out to them to a certain extent, but where are we going now?”

YouthInk, launched in May 2018, is a ministry that “engages young people to cultivate a vibrant community of evangelizers.”

They proclaim and evangelize through new media such as music, blogging, event planning, social media and video.

The aim is to encourage young people to explore their passions and creative outlets in a way that might be intimidating in the secular world. YouthInk also offers a network of mentorship that opens up a way to serve their parish and community.

Former diocesan youth co-ordinator Christian Martinez saw that young people were turning to digital outlets to express their creative passions and began to discern an initiative of encouraging young people to hone their creative talents for the Church.

A year and a half later, Martinez now works as communications co-ordinator for the archdiocese and collaborates with Acosta on YouthInk.

“Ink represents all things creative, whether music, writing or anything,” said Martinez. “When we initially presented the idea to Archbishop (Richard) Gagnon, he saw something good in the idea and encouraged us to keep at it, pursue the idea and reminded us that this idea is a gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acosta and Martinez brought together a core team of five young adults to assist with this initiative. Each member brings a special discipline to the table such as music, short films, writing, social media and events.

The past year has been focused on getting word out and encouraging youth and young adults to participate. Their plan going forward involves reaching out to parishes and speaking to people after Mass about the opportunities that are open to them. In addition, there is a goal to host workshops that will encourage young people to exercise their talents or discover new ones.

“It’s not necessarily just for youth and young adults,” Acosta said. “It’s also about how we can serve parishioners. We want them to see that young people are more than just a bunch of radicals with their tight jeans. Our young people have (a lot) to share.”

Rachelle Tiu, who manages special initiatives and events on the core team, is proud of the work that the team has set out to do. She stresses the importance of structure and discernment within their group.

“The project is going at a slow pace but is carefully delivered. We would rather put (content) out there slowly, rather than put out lots that’s not high quality, she said.

Tiu said YouthInk is not just a vehicle to get content out into the Internet. It is a way of helping young people produce the best content they can and show there is something for everyone in this community.

“(Special initiatives and events) are really special because it brings together the youth who don’t have a specific talent to bring in. They can help me plan events, bring people together, help out wherever else they can while they figure out bigger passions,” she said.

If the project becomes successful, the YouthInk team hopes to expand to the Archdiocese of St. Boniface and other dioceses.

Tiu affirms, “Our vision is that we have it here in our archdiocese — but we want it to be bigger — across Canada as this outlet that others can use. That’s one of our prayers for this ministry.”

– Lafantaisie, 24, is a Winnipeg-based writer for Youth Speak News, a mentorship and writing program through The Catholic Register.