September 22, 2010 // Local

Confirmation rally connects life in 3D

Blessing Okendu of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Wayne, becomes part of APeX Ministries’ skit, holding a spinning plate on a stick, at the diocesan Confirmation rally held at Grace College in Winona Lake.

By Tim Johnson

WINONA LAKE — Youths who are preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation spent the day exploring life in “3-D” — namely “love in motion, three Divine Persons, one almighty God” at the diocesan rally held Sept. 18 at Grace College.

The lively young people gathered as early as 9 a.m. and spent the day with keynotes by APeX Ministries, a juggling group consisting of Gene Monterastelli and Brad Farmer, whose message was to connect with the real super heroes — the saints — and pursue holiness like the saints.

Popple, a Catholic band consisting of Kyle Heimann of Fort Wayne, and Dan Harms of Merrillville, rocked the youths and provided the music for Eucharistic Adoration and the Mass.

Throughout the day, the Franciscan Brothers Minor participated in the events. Father Bob Lengerich, parochial vicar of St. Pius X Parish, Granger, offered catechesis on the Eucharist and Reconciliation. He was joined by several priests to hear confessions. Franciscan Father David Engo, superior of the Franciscan Brothers Minor, was the celebrant for Adoration and Benediction. And Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass at the close of the rally.

At the afternoon keynote, APex’s Brad Farmer performed juggling stunts to the delight of the youths, while Gene Monterastelli showcased a stunt of balancing a chair on his chin. In essence, their message was God gives us all talents. Just like super heroes they spoke of, who share their gifts with others, the youths too need to share their gifts.

Farmer said the saints offer a great example of super heroes. He told the youths when he reads about the lives of the saints, “I see in them something about myself.”

He told the youths the great force that does exist is the spirit of God. “You are the light of the world,” he shared, “You were made to be holy (like the saints). You are the bearers of the light.”

Farmer told rally participants the sacraments only make that light brighter and “that light is meant to be taken out to the world.”

Farmer said it was important to bring joy to others. “When you bring joy to another person, you bring joy to God,” he said.

Blessing Okendu, an eighth grader from St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, helped APeX with a skit. She held a spinning plate on a stick, and then on her index finger, to the delight of the fellow rally participants.

Okendu told Today’s Catholic that she thought the retreat was really fun. “They are making it relate to us,” she said. “It was very upbeat.”
Classmate Kendra Martin said the day “actually helped me reflect on my life. … It’s going to help me realize what my faith is,” she said.
Logan Christie of St. Aloysius School, Yoder, said she liked the stories throughout the skits and how they related. “I was brought closer to God through this experience.”

Christie’s classmate, Connor Gunkel, who spoke with Today’s Catholic immediately after the second keynote, also the skits of APeX Ministries.

Bishop Rhoades, at his first Confirmation rally in the diocese, told the youths he was looking forward to confirming many of them.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of the great courage of St. Thomas More, who was the second most powerful man in England at the time of Henry VII. But More refused to swear an oath of supremacy to Henry VII, and was beheaded because his allegiance to God and the Church was greater than that to the king.

“What a great model he is for us today,” Bishop Rhoades said. St. Thomas More had courage to stand up for what is right, and the youths need that same courage as they tackle secular notions of abortion and same-sex marriage — two examples in which the Church is countercultural to secular society.

“Confirmation,” Bishop Rhoades said, “equips you” to live in the truth.

Bishop Rhoades told the youths that the Holy Spirit guided St. Thomas More and provided the courage — one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Bishop Rhoades requested that the youths pray every day as they prepare for Confirmation, to go to Mass every Sunday, to take out their Bibles and read Scripture and to think of who their saint — their special friend in heaven — should be. Maybe St. Thomas More would be a good choice, Bishop Rhoades noted.

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