A group of high school teens at St. Viator Parish noticed a funny thing on their way to Sunday Mass: many of their peers were missing. Or if they were there, they weren’t participating.

“We decided to take matters into our own hands,” says Jean Ang, 15, of Chicago.

St. Viator youth ministered MassJean and four of her friends were among the original members of the parish’s Youth Ministry group, which began to meet regularly and brainstorm on how to engage more young people in faith-related activities at their church.

Working with Viatorian Pre-Associate Hector Obregon-Luna, and with the support of Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, pastor, they started a new family Mass once a month that is youth ministered. Teens do everything except preside, including serving as ushers, readers, greeters and in music ministry.

“We’re hoping to inspire more kids to come and join us,” says Tiani Salgado, 14, who led the congregation at a recent family Mass.

More than a dozen teens sang with Tiani at Mass, including some who served as instrumentalists, playing the bongos, tambourine, flute and piano. Obregon-Luna directed them and also played the guitar.

“We get to pick all of the music,” says Mary Brick, 14, “and we try to pick songs that are upbeat and lively.”

The family Mass was just the beginning. The teens also plan game nights for the parish, youth retreats and fundraisers.

“We have all kinds of ideas,” adds Jessina Lapacz, “but we have to take it slowly. We don’t want to overwhelm people.”