Knitting Hats for Fetus Dolls – What’s Wrong with Youth Group

Knitting Hats for Fetus Dolls – What’s Wrong with Youth Group May 18, 2015

When my eldest was in our parish’s high school youth group, she loved the mission trips and the hands on outreach of the summers best of all. She’d return from those trips glowing with accomplishment and talking about how much she loved really truly helping people. While she was also sometimes questioning the things we believed (as teenagers will,) she was all-in when it came to the Corporal Works of Mercy. It was those acts of charity which kept her attending weekly youth group meetings that she once described as “like going to kindergarten where we all listen to story-time, and then sit in ‘circle time’ and sing happy-clappy songs.”

She was begging to have something, anything really, asked of her. She was aching for Faith-in-Action, to see the words they were told being actually lived out by the Catholic group to which she belonged. Unfortunately, that only seemed to happen during the one or two weeks of the Summer Mission Trips. The rest of the year was much more of a social gathering than anything faith-challenging or even faith-filled.

The last Sunday that she ever went to Youth Group, she returned home in disgust, flung her bag on the floor, and loudly declared that she would never be returning to “such a phenomenal waste of time.” Her outburst took me a little by surprise because just the week before they’d been learning to crochet and/or knit in preparation for their Big Spring Service Project. She’d guessed that they were going to be making blankets of some kind – perhaps for kids in foster care, or like the little blanket our Bernadette had been wrapped in the only time we held her. She’d been so into going that night, then they did the most asinine and completely useless service project I’ve ever heard of in my life.

They crocheted and knitted hats for fetus dolls.

At some point, the people in charge of youth group decided that the little plastic fetus models, that pro-life groups often hand out, are ugly and could use a make-over. The fastest way to take ugly plastic doll to cute baby was to put a hat on it. So they took the collective energy of over 70 teenagers and set them to creating hats for these poor ugly things. The teenagers treated it like the joke that it was, and the adults got frustrated at the lack of cooperation. Most of those ugly model dolls just had to soldier on with their heads uncovered.

What frustrated this great group of kids just makes me sad at the missed opportunity. They were excited and on fire to do something real. They wanted so badly to go out into the world and bless people with the work of their hands, and this was the “work” that they were given them to do.

My eldest and I have talked about this a few times since it happened last year. We’ve talked about the waste of time and effort and how it could have been done better. After four years in Youth Group, she said that the desire to make an impact and to do something real is common among the kids she met. They want to see their faith lived out in real life, and want help doing that.  What if, she asked, the Sunday night gatherings looked less like pep rallies and more like something real?

She got me to wondering and asking – What if their meetings opened with scripture and a prayer and then the youth of the parish were sent off to help at the food pantry, the homeless ministry, the Autism Parent Support Group, or to help the homebound and/or infirm in our parish? What if the long list of parishioners who need help was matched up with the long list of youth who are dying to make an impact? What if instead of talking to these kids about Works of Mercy, we helped them to live them in real life? What would that do for the vibrancy of their faith? How would it strengthen their sense of belonging to the Church, and their sense of responsibility to the world?

We have these young adults, fully Confirmed members of the Church, who want to know why it’s important and what it all means. They want to be a part of something so much bigger than themselves, so why are we squandering their youthful energy and zeal on meaningless tasks? What if we stopped giving them crappy jobs like knitting hats for fetus dolls, and asked them instead to actually live their faith?


** For the record, I’m more than just noise on this issue. I’ve discussed this with the Youth Director, and she is “discussing” it with someone else. They’re going to let me know if they need my help. I’m not sure what that means to be honest, but I’m not holding my breath.

If you don’t know what a fetus model doll is, you can see one here.

Knitting and photo by Clancy Ratliff – Source: {{cc-by-sa}}

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