December 6, 2011 // Uncategorized

‘Mission: Possible’ draws teens to rally

FORT WAYNE — Young Catholics preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation joined their peers Saturday in Fort Wayne for the annual Confirmation Rally. The title, based on an upcoming movie release, was “Mission: Possible, Holy Spirit Protocol” and based on Philippians, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

This year’s rally, held at Gerig Activities Center at the Summit, was organized by the Office of Catechesis and included a keynote address by APeX Ministries, a juggling group consisting of Gene Monterastelli and Brad Farmer.

Popple, a Catholic band consisting of Kyle Heimann of Fort Wayne, Dan Harms of Merrillville and Jon Pressimone of Baltimore, Md., rocked the youths and provided the music for concerts and inspiration throughout the day and again at Eucharistic Adoration in the afternoon.

APeX Youth Ministries used juggling, humor and storytelling to appeal to the teenagers. The duo focused on the superhero theme, talking about “ninjas” and saints in the same breath.

“The real superheroes are the saints,” emphasized Farmer, “regular, ordinary people who inspire us. Having studied at the school of the saints, I believe the miraculous really exists. It’s in front of us every day, and we can miss it.”

Farmer shared a personal story of growing up with a younger sister who had cerebral palsy. He described how while 11-year-old Brittany didn’t look like a superhero on the outside, she was truly a heroic girl who loved others unconditionally. In and out of hospitals much of her young life, Farmer recalled knowing something was very wrong one day. His parents had taken Brittany to the hospital again, and this time her older brother went to his room to pray.

As he prayed the rosary, Farmer described a moment when he had a vision of Brittany running smoothly, not stumbling as she usually did because of the cerebral palsy. He later discovered it was at that very moment Brittany died while at the hospital. But because her brother was communicating with God in prayer, he was given the peace of knowing in his heart all was well with his sister.

Farmer acknowledged he wasn’t always one to pray, but something that day nudged him along. He encouraged his audience to persevere in their prayer lives.

“The rosary is a real powerhouse,” he said. “If you’ve tried it before, and didn’t get much out of it, give it another try. Stick with it and you’ll be amazed.”

Continuing with the superhero theme, Brad encouraged the teens to remember their mission.

“Our job is to be like the saints,” he said. “We were created to be superheroes. The only way we can do that is to recognize the gifts we’ve been given. Take those gifts everywhere, not just where it’s safe to be religious.”

Father Terrence Coonan, parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish in Granger, offered the young people catechesis on the sacrament of Confirmation. He explained how Confirmation unites the faithful to the Church and can call God the Father, Abba, through the Holy Spirit.

He explained that Confirmation increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and “we need to continually pray and foster the gifts of the Holy Spirit,” Father Coonan said.

He added that one of the effects of Confirmation is that it “makes us officially full members and active members of the Church.”

Father Coonan said Confirmation provides a special strength of the Holy Spirit. In Confirmation, he said, there is a “permanent seal imprinted on our souls that can never be removed. It marks us out as a child of God.”

As students listened to the catechetical sessions, their peers lined up to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. Priests from across the diocese assisted in hearing confessions.

In the afternoon, a portion of the retreat was devoted to Eucharistic Adoration, which included the recitation of the rosary.

At the afternoon keynote, APeX’s Monterastelli told the young people how he dealt with some learning disabilities and social anxiety.

Monterastelli amazed the crowd by demonstrating how a straight jacket works as he allowed a member of the audience to lock him into one. While he proceeded to work his way out of the jacket, a seemingly impossible task, Monterastelli demonstrated the parallels of breaking free from sin.

“As long as we keep Christ in our lives,” he said, “all things are possible, and not even sin can keep us down.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass with attendees to close out the rally.

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of John the Baptist who called the people to repent and prepare for the Lord.

Just as in Advent we prepare for the Lord at Christmas or His Second Coming, those preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation are preparing to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, Bishop Rhoades noted. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised the Apostles He would send them His Spirit.

The Spirit, Bishop Rhoades said, “will be with you for the rest of your lives — to guide you, to help you, to strengthen you in your Christian lives.”

John the Baptist called for repentence — to turn to the Lord.

“There is no better way to prepare for Christmas — or Confirmation for that matter —than to have our souls cleansed of our sins and be in friendship with Christ,” Bishop Rhoades said.

He encouraged all, “Prepare for the way of the Lord, to welcome Jesus in our lives every day by praying, by being close to Him, and by striving to live as He taught us — to observe His commandments, to love one another as He has loved us.”

“In these coming months,” Bishop Rhoades said, “my simple message to you is to prepare the way of the Lord, the message of John the Baptist. Prepare for your Confirmation, especially by going to Confession and by praying every day and by being close to Jesus.”

This is the first year Corpus Christi School from South Bend has participated in the diocesan Confirmation rally. Fifty-three seventh and eighth graders were among the loudest to cheer during the introductions. The eighth graders were just confirmed this fall, while the seventh graders are beginning their preparations.

“They interspersed great solemnity and prayer,” said Corpus Christi religion teacher Marilyn Ahearn. “Then the next minute they’re bouncing beach balls! I think they did a really good job of mixing it up.”

“It was great because I got to be there with all my friends,” smiled Corpus Christi eighth-grader Collin Greve. “It was nice, because our class has already received Confirmation, to see so many other kids being prepared for it.”

“I thought it was a really exciting day!” added Corpus Christi Principal Maggie Mackowiak. “I hope this is the first of many trips we can make over to Fort Wayne, or wherever they have it, so the kids can be with each other, from all different churches and schools … and celebrate and hear about the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“I think it’s really fun — the stories are touching,” said Elise Vorndran of Queen of Angels Parish in Fort Wayne.

“Very inspiring!” added Juliahna Clark, also of Queen of Angels.

“It’s great — very informational!” said Jack Johnston, of St. Joseph-Hessen Cassel Parish in Fort Wayne.

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