Marist Youth Grows and Thrives at Christopher Columbus High School
March 12, 2019
It’s a Tuesday evening in March. Sixty-seven students from Christopher Columbus and other Miami area high schools are gathered in the school chapel for the weekly Marist Youth meeting. At Columbus, Marist Youth is a coed faith community open to all high school students. Participants socialize, share their faith and life experiences, pray together, have fun, and deepen their bonds as a Marist family.
“Marist Youth has taught me a lot. It’s taught me what ‘Marist’ means, having that sense of community, building our faith with others rather than trying to do it by ourselves,” says CCHS senior Justin Valdes. CCHS Senior Matias Rodriguez states, “I didn’t really have faith in my life. Going to Columbus and Marist Youth is where God was incorporated into my life. I want to pass that on to others.”
The typical weekly meeting takes the form of a 90-minute mini-retreat including a fun icebreaker activity, a faith-witness talk by a student or faculty member, discussion in small groups, and prayer. Participants are introduced to a wide range of prayer forms and styles.
Periodic special-event meetings have included a "Catholic Rock" concert; movie nights; Halloween costume contest & pumpkin carving; Christmas hot-chocolate-and-cookies social; talent show; and bowling nights. In November, CCHS faculty member Fernando Machado created and facilitated a unique simulation activity designed to deepen students understanding of core Marist values and our commitment to the least favored.
Marist Youth is led by a team of trained peer ministers: Columbus students Justin Valdes (Rector), Carlos Gutierrez, Andrew Hernandez, Chris Hochmuth, Andres Molina, Alejandro Morles, Paul Signori, Daniel Van Arman, Ryan Yglesias and Doral Academy student Monet Jurjo. Mr. David Isenberg and Brother Tom Long serve as faculty moderators. According to Brother Tom, student leadership is a distinguishing feature. "Mr. Isenberg and I are largely in the background. Students conduct the meeting, give the talks, and lead prayer, activities, and small group discussions."
Brother Tom believes that the dramatic growth of Marist Youth at Columbus, “is the result of the faith and commitment of the student leaders. Every meeting is very well prepared. That means a quality experience for participants. They want to come back. They tell their friends.”
Another factor in the success of Marist Youth “is the support and prayers of the administration and faculty,” says Brother Tom.
Marist Youth is exclusively for high school students, so what happens after graduation? "We are exploring ways to collaborate with the emerging Marist Young Adult program in Miami," Brother Tom notes. “Marist Youth has become a big part of these kids’ lives. Transitioning to Marist Young Adults after high school seems like a natural next step."
To learn more about Marist Youth at Christopher Columbus High School:
Visit our webpage: https://www.columbushs.com/faith--service/marist-youth
Watch us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZ7Igjr9D8
Follow us on Instagram: @maristyouth