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5/11/2011 2:05:00 PM
Youth group immerses students in faith, service
O'Hara School photo
O'Hara students in Edge youth ministry.  
O'Hara School photo
O'Hara students in Edge youth ministry.

EUGENE — To provide students at O’Hara opportunity outside the classroom to learn about and express their faith, O’Hara launched Edge in the Fall of 2010. Edge is a middle school youth ministry used by more than 780 Catholic parishes. Led by O’Hara’s religion coordinator, Leslie Jones, as many as 40 middle school students attend the bi-weekly gatherings.  

“We wanted to provide the opportunity for students to experience a youth group,” says Jones, an active youth group participant herself for several years at St. Mary Parish in Eugene. “It is our hope that, through active engagement and positive experience, students will choose to become more involved in their parish youth group programs both now and as they go on to high school.”

During the 1.5 hour sessions, students spend time eating, playing games, discussing the week’s theme, preparing skits, praying, and praising God through music. Often, students from the University of Oregon or Marist High attend and share stories about their faith with the students.

Edge participants spend time on service projects. They recently provided food for families staying at St. Mary's through an outreach to people who are homeless. Other activities help the students find ways to express their faith outside of school and church. In one project, students worked together to make a Faithbook page. That gave them ideas about how their Facebook page could reflect their love for God.

“I like Edge because it gives me the opportunity to talk about my faith in a more relaxed environment," says eighth grader Jenny Horniman. "It helps give me a different perspective on what I am learning in the classroom."  Victoria Richards, also an eighth grader, says, “It is really fun to get to know other middle school students and to talk about God. Edge helps me focus more on the Liturgy because we talk about the upcoming Mass.”

“My daughter loves Edge”, says Katie Reiter. “The social part is fun but, most importantly, it gives her a healthy, safe environment to talk about and express her faith amongst peers.”

The program will continue again next year.  

O'Hara graduation is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at St. Mary Church. Valedictorian is Claire Farrington and salutatorians are Amanda Boechler and Caitlin Patton.

Here are the graduates: Michael Baird, AJ Bartko, Ellie Baumgartner, Hannah Beeler, Cesare Bocci, Amanda Boechler, Michelle Campbell, AnnaMarie Cauthorn , Benedict Cauthorn , Joshua Christian , Dallin Cone, Abigail Crowell, Mitchell Decker, Will Dodge, Claire Farrington, Tyler Fechtel, Samuel Gonzalez, Chaney Hart, Jalan Hart, Jenny Horniman, Isaac Jackson, William Knowlton, Emily Laing, Joseph Laver, Lindsey Lee, Samuel Meakins, Clifford Noonan, Gwen Over, Randy Patterson, Caitlin Patton, Geraldine Pérez, Chandler Potter, Victoria Richards, Angelina Rivas, Katherine Rivas, Tate Rupp, Sabrina Schafer, Sophia Schlesinger, Kerissa Sheley, Corey Solari, Lars Sundahl, Alexandra Thompson, Megan Waguespack, Regina Weber, Carley Weixelman, Hannah Yi

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