After years without regular use, the old Senior Center at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Juneau has a new purpose: the new community youth building.

Before moving into the new youth building, the Juneau high school youth group used extra space in St. Peter’s hall for events and youth group meetings on Sunday evenings. Heather Shaw, Diocese of Juneau Director of Youth Ministry, said “as the youth group grew, we quickly realized we needed our own space, and it has been awesome watching the youth group take ownership of their new space and take pride in it as well.” She added that the teens “named it, cleaned it, and decorated it.”

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During one of their Sunday meetings the teens voted on the name for the youth room. After nominations and discussion the teens decided to name the room after St. John Paul II, the Patron Saint of World Youth Day. The building will now be known as the St. John Paul II Lodge.

The youth group opened the St. John Paul II Lodge to the public October 9th. During the open house parishioners stopped by, asked the students about their new youth room, gave donations, and even offered their services to clean or maintain the building. Shaw said “All of these things have shown us the beautiful love of this community and how much they support our youth, and we are very grateful.”She added “The JPII Lodge is still a work in progress, but we are very excited to continue to work on it together.”

The youth group will be hosting a chili cook-off November 5th to raise money for a sign to place in front of the new Lodge and for their upcoming trip to Anchorage for the Alaska Catholic Youth Conference, or ACYC. For more information on the Juneau youth group and the chili cook-off contact Heather Shaw at youthdirector@dioceseofjuneau.org.