At a Crossroads in Life

By Joe Melhem - Youth Minister

Holy Family’s ‘Crossroads’ Youth Group was held last month, and to kick off our very first Crossroads event of the year, we decided to make it ‘Superhero themed.’ Why? Because everyone loves superheroes! Superheroes have awesome superhuman powers, they are strong, fast, smart and they have some pretty sweet-looking costumes.

As the youth minister at Holy Family, and along with the National Evangelisation Team (NET) and other young adult volunteers, I have been running youth groups all year for EDGE on Friday nights (Years 7-9) and Summit on Sunday nights (Years 10-12) and the time has come for the Year 6s to join in on the action on a Friday night!

“What’s Crossroads?”, I hear you ask. Essentially, our Crossroads youth program is aimed at Year 6 students who will soon be making the transition into high school, and is a program filled with games, activities, content, food and community. Crossroads is here to help sustain the friendships that have been made in primary school, so that the students have a community of friends and older peers, mentors and team leaders to help guide them through the transition from primary to secondary school. This has happened for the past three years at Holy Famil and kids who went through Crossroads three years ago are still hanging out with us on a Friday night at EDGE; five of these students are coming with us to ACYF in Perth at the end of the year!

So, back to the superheroes.

I asked the students, ”What is it that you love about superheroes”, and I got the generic answers that were listed previously: cool costumes, superpowers, fast etc. Obviously, I wanted to take the students a little deeper. This idea of the superhuman ‘hero’ stock character is a universal idea that is timeless and goes back to ancient mythology. Hearing a story about a character who is valiantly overcoming difficult tasks and suffering through hardships for the greater good is intriguing, and something that people are drawn to. Superheroes have more than just superpowers; they are using their power for something bigger or ‘heroic.’ As the beloved Uncle Ben from Spiderman says: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

The students heard that we don’t all have superpowers, but we all can do heroic things. I was then able to share such a story with the students about walking the Camino de Santiago last year with Fr Pearce and other young men from Melbourne. During the Camino, I suffered 16 blisters while hiking across the top of Spain and Fr Pearce would tend to my smelly feet each morning and night without fail. After he would pop my blisters and bandage my feet, he would then go through the hostel where we were staying, asking all the other pilgrims, whom he didn’t know, if they also needed their blisters tended to. I told the students that this was a heroic act to me. We then proceeded to do an activity on the saints, the superheroes of our church, and on how they became superheroes. All of the saints who were chosen, namely Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, Mother Teresa, St John Paul II and St Therese of Lisieux, had a devotion to the Rosary and Our Lady. This was primarily the key to how they became superheroes and proceeded to change the world by God’s grace.