Our Girls’ Groups at St. Lawrence, Portugal Cove

Elaine Beckton

St. Lawrence Parish in Portugal Cove is proud to boast 4 girls’ groups, ranging from ages 5 – 18. They start with Sunbeams, then on to JA (Junior Auxiliary), then on to YGA (Young Girls Auxiliary). Each group has its own opening/closing prayers, colours, and themes designed specifically for its age group.

Throughout the year, they play games and enjoy the activities created and led by their dedicated longtime leaders, Heather Greeley and Sylvia Greeley. During Hallowe’en, they invite their dads to a Hallowe’en Party, complete with games and costumes. During Christmas, they have a Grandmother’s Tea, providing entertainment such as singing, skits, etc. Then at the end of the year, they have a Mother and Daughter Banquet where they are presented with awards for their work throughout the year. These groups attend an Initiation Service in February, which they attend in their respective colours, from Sunbeams through to YGA.  Each group has their own banner, which is brought to the altar during this special service.

When a girl is finished with YGA, she graduates to GA (Girls Auxiliary). GA was started at St. Lawrence in 1964 by Mrs. Enid Smith, who was the wife of the Rev’d Thomas Smith. Ruth Bugden, the current leader of GA, has been involved with this group since its inception. She helps with Sunbeams, JA, and YGA as well. Many of our parish families have seen 3 generations work their way up through the Girls’ Groups.

GA carries out a variety of outreach projects in our parish, and many of these programs have been in effect for years.  On Good Friday of every year, you will find these teenagers preparing fruit baskets and delivering them to those who are 70 years of age and older in Portugal Cove, regardless of their denomination. Before they start the preparation of the fruit baskets, they do the Children’s Liturgy, complete with costumes and script, a crown of thorns, the tomb, and so on. They also carry out the Children’s Liturgy on Christmas Eve, again complete with costumes, script, Baby Jesus, and so on. They enter a float in our community Santa Claus Parade, and have won first place many times.

At the end of their year in May, at the Mother and Daughter Banquet, earned badges and others awards are presented. The girls put off a play during the banquet, which is put off again as a dinner theatre in September of each year as a major fundraiser for our parish. There is a group of volunteers who come together to take care of the cooking and clean up to help these fantastic young people.

One of the awards which is presented during the annual banquet is a ‘GA Honour Ring’. These rings are presented to the girls for outstanding attendance, involvement, and co-operation since their enrolment in the Girls’ Groups at the tender ages of 5 or 6. GA Honour Ring Girls are invited back each year for this banquet, so it is a reunion of sorts among ‘older’ GA girls. Among these ‘Honour Ring’ girls, you will find both mothers and daughters who have been awarded a ring in their respective years. 

For the past 59 years, this group has met at 8 pm at our parish hall. 2024 marks their 60th Anniversary, so you can be sure there will be a celebration like no other.  They already have a committee of 30 volunteers (GA girls/women) to get started on the celebration.

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