Whew. What a weekend! I had the opportunity to chaperone our high school and middle school youth to our Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference.
DCYC offers several keynote speakers and a variety of workshops for youth and their leaders to grow deeper in ways to live an active Catholic life–all centered around the theme, which for this year is “Ignite my heart, I burn for you.”
I think this is a great theme because I have a thing for spiritual fire. Hence, this blog’s name, En Fuego. I like how the keynote speakers and Bishop Vann brought the idea that if you’re spiritually on fire, you have to do something about it. The Holy Spirit burns brightly within us all and …what, then, is our response? And DCYC this year got us thinking more about what our response could be. Just don’t stand near candles lest your garments be on fire literally, as advised by Bishop Vann haha!
But, I don’t want to focus so much on what was said by the keynote speakers. Besides, I cannot hope to recreate in typing of words their energy and fire for I can’t do it any justice. Rather, I want to focus on my observations of seeing the Catholic youth…particularly the youth from my own parish…and other cool things that have all to do with the meat of the weekend’s experience. While DCYC isn’t really meant to really dig deeper in Catholic spirituality, the various events offer ways to just…get excited about being Catholic which hopefully leads to a desire to grow deeper in the faith.
This is my second time going to DCYC, and after this year I definitely see its value of how it can bring a group together closer by building community and sharing in the Catholic faith doing Catholic things. This is especially true of our youth at SEAS.
Friday NightI arrived late since I came straight from work, but I picked up pizzas. Then delivered the pizzas. Many from our youth group came to the table of plenty of Cici’s pizzas. There was bonding in each group over cheese and pepperoni. And sausage.
We went through night prayer and the first keynote speaker. Had a mini dance party with DJ Bill Lage of Catholic Dance fame.
Gathered up again after Friday’s events. There was a reading from Jeremiah 1 for night prayer service that we felt like deserved digging deeper into and really chewing on the message of that Scripture passage. So when we gathered back before bedtime, our youth minister led us through a sort of Lectio Divina, reflecting on the words from Jeremiah 1. God knew us before we were formed in the womb, and even before He formed us, He called us. We are set aside as prophets to proclaim the Good News.
I don’t know when…but at some point on Friday night we apparently adopted Sr. Giovanna Mariae and Sr. Grace Dominic of the Sisters of Life. Just to take care of them and hang out with them and invite them to things that we’re doing for the rest of the weekend. They were grateful for our invitations and hospitality.
Lastly, bed time.
SaturdayThis day was workshop day. Everyone could go to various workshops on their own, so it’s impossible for me to recount the experiences that anyone experienced through these workshops. After all, I’m only one person and cannot multi-locate and can’t be everywhere at once! (#piojokes). However, there is one workshop I can speak for–the one that I helped lead. 😉
Gabe and I led the “Man Up! Exploring the Role of Men in Relationships and in Society” workshop. The workshop went really well! We asked the guys that attended (who were of different parishes) to partner up and talk about the manliest movies they’ve seen, and the manliest characters they know of. Then we discussed what makes these manly characters…manly. After that, we had a slideshow displaying various manly images. The cool thing is…the slideshow goes from images that focus on steaks and strength, then crescendos to fatherhood and ultimately to Jesus Christ on the cross. I then talked about interior strength and its importance. Gabe focused on who men are for women. And I think the most fruitful thing we did in our workshop was splitting up the crowd of guys 8 ways and provided each group with a different situation that tested how they can man up in that situation. Example: You’re alone with your girlfriend in her house and the temptation and opportunity are there to go further–how do you man up? After sharing everyone’s answers, we provided them with the link to E5men.org, which is an online group of men dedicated to loving the women of their lives (especially their wives) as Christ loved His Church (as in, Ephesians 5). Boom roasted. Annnnd the cool part was…we got a lot of positive feedback from the adults and young men who attended that workshop, many handshakes from guys, and one or two guys even stayed longer to ask questions on how to deal with a situation. Beautiful. I loved seeing how fired up the guys were towards the end! Ignited their masculine hearts, perhaps? 🙂
Insert more workshops and keynote speaking here.
A tradition that we have is eating dinner with St. Ann’s of Burleson on Saturday evening of DCYC. In DCYC prep meetings, we had a group of guys plan some ice breakers to play with St. Ann’s youth. And that’s exactly what we did! After a while, we even got some of our chaperones and Srs. Giovanna and Grace to play with us! After playing several games, we feasted on Spring Creek barbecue and Chicken Express. And there was much mingling. Oh, and the band Jesus Team A was having their sound check like…the whole time while we were playing games and eating dinner.
St. Ann’s leaves…and we tried gathering our SEAS youth into the corner of the room to have a mini-meeting and announcements. We gather into the corner…and zomg. For whatever reason, everyone started busting out singing “Lean On Me” ! Jesus Team A decided to start providing music to the youth singing. Then …the whole ordeal evolved into a dance party for a good solid 15 minutes with Jesus Team A doing “Lean On Me” and “Hold Us Together” and other songs. A dance party! It just…happened. Like, no one said “hey let’s have a dance party!” Totally organic in how it happened. Freakin’ awesome!
We finally had our announcements. The rest of the evening was a sort of free-for-all of what you wanted to do because various activities were available like board games, movies, dancing, talent show, praying, etc.
Here’s what I did and saw:I went over to the Prayer Room because I wanted to join in on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet let by another parish … in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately, I caught the last decade…but that’s okay! I still stuck around for a good long while in Adoration. Since I could see the door to the room out of the corner of my eye while facing Jesus…I could see who walked into the room. The cool thing is, whenever I walked in, there was already a good group of our SEAS youth. And when we finished the DMC, there was a constant trickling in of different SEAS people, youth and adults. Groups of our youth, too! Especially the younger ones and the ones that I don’t know very well. SEAS made sure not to make Jesus feel lonely, and I just think it’s awesome that we were well-represented in keeping Jesus company. I left after a while then hit up the talent show/coffee house.
I really needed coffee at this point and I knew that the talent show had some while they were also having a talent show. This is where I spent most of my time because some of our youth participated in the talent show. Let me just say, after seeing our youth perform…I’m impressed! One of our guys is pursuing a career as a professional rappper and he performed a rap that he had just written the night before. And oh my gosh, it was so good. I could really feel the passion in his rap about how things are going bad, but there’s redemption in it all. One of my fellow young adult chaperones shed some tears because it was that good. Awesome. Another one of our guys likes to sing. A lot. He performed “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz and he has a really good voice! I was impressed. Another group of our guys performed with some of their Camp Fort Worth friends a cover of Paul Kim’s “From Shore to Shore.” That’s when I found out that one of our guys can do spoken word rap really, really well. Like, whoa. I, too, was impressed by that. These same guys, minus their CFW friends, also did their own performance of the “Catholic Pick-Up Line Song” by David Casper (a fellow Aggie Catholic). That was awesomely hilarious. And ironic, too, if you know those guys. I’m inclined to tell a Catholic girl that I’d be her second class relic if she just gives me a kiss on the cheek. Haha anyway…
Also, there was a Franciscan Friar sighting at the talent show. Fr. Pio, in fact. He was swarmed.
We concluded the conference night with another big dance party with DJ Bill. I realized I need to work on my Bernie dance, but it’s hard to do without punching someone accidentally.
Like the night before, we gathered as a group again. This time we prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet in our usual sung version. Oh my gosh! I think the combination of most everyone knowing how to sing the Chaplet, the acoustics of the room, and just the movement of the Holy Spirit made for a really, really, really beautiful praying of the Chaplet. We sung the Salve Regina after the DMC and that was really beautiful too! Like, truly, a blessing to have a solid group of youth who can sing well and so beautifully.
Then bed time. Kind of. Stayed up late doing chaperone things. To our youth that is reading this blog post…I don’t apologize for listening to your door to make sure you’re asleep and not making noise. But believe me, I was sneaking around like a Catholic ninja in the hallway. 😀
Sunday (Today)By today, I could tell that most everyone in our youth group has bonded such that…you can tell that everyone is comfortable and friendly with each other.
I think the one really cool thing our youth did today was…worship disobedience. You know, tis hard to find a venue to hold ~1500 people, and thankfully the hotel’s ballroom has enough space for chairs. An announcement was made prior to Mass that because the space is tight (which it wasn’t), it’s okay to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer (in other words, stay standing after singing the Holy, Holy, Holy). Believe it or not…I didn’t have to look around and give looks of “umm…that’s going to be awkward” because there was already a group of youth around me saying that they’re going to kneel anyway. And within a minute, the memo of “we’re still going to kneel” spread throughout our group. So, when it came time…like…90% of us kneeled. And I’m pretty sure our group was the only group kneeling in that part of that room that I could see. Awesome. I think that just speaks loudly of how our youth approaches Liturgy and the Mass…that we know what’s going on during the Eucharistic Prayer and that we have a genuine desire to revere Christ in humility. We kneeled not because we know it’s a rule or ordinary practice, but because we wanted to… Besides, there was room to kneel. But…bottom line…that was really wonderful to see…because we know. We know Who becomes truly present during the Consecration. And that’s the time to be reverent and focused. 🙂
(Disclaimer: While I haven’t looked up whether you HAVE TO kneel during the Eucharist Prayer in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, I would imagine that the GIRM allows for flexibility depending on circumstances…But, the whole point is…SEAS is just doing what we do normally, even if told otherwise).
Anyway, after Mass and during dismissal/parent pickup…a lot of us said goodbye to the Sisters of Life…a good group of us befriended them and made them feel welcome to our group.
All in all, this was a really great weekend for our youth to bond together. Actually, not just the youth. I feel like I’ve bonded with the other chaperones too. We have some new faces and I feel like that serving the youth helped us bond together too. 🙂 I’m seeing posts on Facebook and Twitter about how positive an experience it was from some of our youth already!
So yes, our hearts were ignited through sharing in the Catholic faith this weekend. Hopefully we keep the fire burning as we continue to do our SEAS things for the rest of the summer…and now I’m getting more pumped for the start of another year as a volunteer! After all, being on fire…you have to do something about that. 😉
Oftentimes, I feel truly blessed to be part of SEAS Youth Ministry because…I don’t know…the way we bond together and our appreciation for orthodoxy …and just how brightly our hearts burn…it’s just really really awesome to see that. Inspiring. And this weekend was just another affirmation of that.
Ignite my heart.