the program three years ago.
"When you hear an older person, you think, 'That's their deal,"' she
So every Sunday night, the children take charge.
While most older members of the congregation attend a traditional Mass in
the morning, those who enjoy a little walk on the "wild" side should wait
until 5 p.m., Palmer said.
That's when about 1,000 people typically show up to hear more than just
the Gospel read by a priest. A six-piece band accompanies the service in
which children perform the biblical readings, she said.
"It really rocks," she said.
The band includes three canters, an electric and bass guitar, and drums.
"A lot of the old-school Catholics are like, 'What is this?,"' she said.
But the music grows on you, she said.
"It's not like we're singing David Bowie songs," she said. "They're
Catholic songs that are a little more funky."
After Mass, a group of about 60 children head over to the Youth Center by
the church for a $3 dinner followed by a discussion on topics close to
their hearts, such as friendship and, with Valentine's Day coming up,
love, Palmer said.
Palmer leads the group in discussing, for example, the difference between
lust and true love -- but another type of love is also touched on, she
"Obviously, Jesus loves us unconditionally because he died for our sins,"
Vanessa is active in the program.
"I not only found a group of friends there," she said, "we are almost
like a family."
Although she considers herself a serious person, Vanessa does enjoy the
social events the program offers, such as the upcoming broomball game at
the church's gym on Feb. 27.
The competition hails from another parish, St. John the Baptist in Costa
"It's like soccer with brooms," Palmer said. "It's just a big, fun
City Councilman Ralph Bauer agrees that religion ought to be taught in
"today's language," but he worries that the fundamental tenants of the
faith may be diluted in the process.
Palmer said her program has successfully avoided that.
"They're not watered down -- none whatsoever," Palmer said. "We do
exactly what's taught by our priest and our church."
Vanessa enjoys sharing her experience with God, and she counts on others
in her peer group to open up as well, she said. Life is more satisfying
with God in your life, she said.
"It's kind of like putting on a new pair of glasses," she said. "You can
see the world in a different perspective. You kind of have the confidence
that you can change the world a little bit."
WHAT: Teen Life
WHERE: Sts. Simon and Jude Church, 20444 Magnolia St., Huntington Beach.
WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays