"ANY church youth group that survives for more than five years can be considered to be divinely inspired in its formation." So said Fr Simon Pereira in his opening speech during the Vine and Branches youth group's 21st anniversary celebration.
The group from Novena Church marked the occasion with a dinner and dance, entitled A Nite of Stars, at the Marina Mandarin Hotel on April 18. For the first time in the history of the group, parents of the youths were formally invited to one of its events as spiritual director Fr Simon wanted to meet them.
It was also an opportunity for Fr Simon to brief those present on the history of one of the oldest Church youth groups in the Archdiocese of Singapore and to show parents the vibrancy of its members. During the celebration, participants were treated to lively song-and-dance numbers which included performances based on the movies Grease and Sister Act.
The celebration marks a milestone in the history of Vine and Branches. More than two decades ago, a newly-ordained Fr Simon and a bunch of about 10 youths gathered every Saturday evening in the backyard of Novena Church telling each other jokes. The group not only drew more youths by their infectious laughter, they also began to share their problems and difficulties with one another. Soon camps were organised for the youths to give them spiritual direction.
Fr Simon named the group Vine and Branches from Jesus' words in John 15. The initial motto was Caring and Sharing, now it's I Live To Give. To date, Vine and Branches has successfully organised numerous family Masses, school missions and massive special projects like the Novena Annual Flower Procession and Lenten Vigils.
Vine and Branches holds prayer meetings in Novena Church every Sunday at 2.45 p.m. Youths interested in joining the group may contact Bernard Lee (9415-1672).
Fr Simon talking to the parents.
Fr Simon giving his opening speech.
Fr Simon giving a toast with the President, Bernard Lee (extreme left).
The birthday cake.
Fr Simon cutting the cake with the other birthday celebrants.
Fr Simon showing us the card we gave him.
The people at my table.
A 'Sister Act' performance.
A cool retro number.
V&B's own revival of 'Grease'.
The fathers doing a cosmetic sex change. Unfortunately, one of the V&B's members participated and stole the show.
Fr Simon having fun shooting his water gun at participants in a game. The participants had to talk on a church-related topic non-stop for 2 minutes or he'll fire. Well, most did get wet.
The youths enjoying themselves at the end with a disco dance.
Tired but happy youths at the end.
The committee that worked so hard to bring you the D&D. They are (from left): Alice Lim, Vivian Yee, Julius Chan, John Lee, Shirley Chua and Bernard Lee.