By Tim Johnson
NORTH MANCHESTER — “Give it UP to the Holy Spirit” was the theme for the Oct. 10 confirmation rally organized by the diocesan offices of catechesis and youth ministry at Manchester College.
Taking a theme from the recent movie, “Up,” the retreat version included a mixture of catechesis, music by Popple, prayer, sharing and sacramental time. Added dimensions of the rally included eucharistic adoration, an opportunity for reconciliation and Mass celebrated by Bishop John M. D’Arcy to close the day-long activities.
About 1,000 junior high students from across the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend took part in round-robin sessions with Popple, APex Ministries and eucharistic adoration and reconciliation.
APeX Youth Ministries provided the keynote address at the rally and is the Baltimore-based ministry of Gene Monterastelli and Brad Farmer who define their style as Christian vaudeville and includes juggling, humor, characterization skits, storytelling, audience participation and personal testimony.
The delighted youths connected well to the duo as they discussed super heroes. “It doesn’t matter where the power came from,” Farmer told his audience, “it’s what to do with the power to help others.”
Farmer told the youths that when they receive the Holy Spirit, they activate those super powers. He encouraged the teens to recognize their gifts and allow that power to move through them.
We only have to look as far as the saints to see the miraculous before us, the teens were told. “Every one of you is created to be a saint,” Farmer said, “to be a real super hero.”
And concentrating on the day’s theme, when the future confirmandi allow themselves to be lifted up, “when you go up in a balloon, it broadens your horizon,” Farmer explained.
Bishop D’Arcy arrived for a brief question-answer session. He explained that his calling to the priesthood was established by his family. Bishop D’Arcy encouraged the young people to have a daily dialogue with God. “Look into yourself deeply,” he said, “and find what God wants.”
At Mass, Bishop D’Arcy explained the importance of confirmation and used the Sunday Gospel where Jesus tells the rich man to “sell what you have, give it to the poor and come follow me.”
He recalled Pope John Paul II’s first visit to the United States at the Boston Commons where he spoke with young people, students from the universities of Boston. The pope, Bishop D’Arcy recalled, told the young people not to escape through drugs, sex and money, but rather to follow Christ and the call to freedom.
Bishop D’Arcy said, “At Communion today, tell Christ ‘I will follow you.’ ”
The bishop added this is the key to a joyful life — to stand with Jesus Christ every day.
He spoke of St. Thomas More who refused to take an oath to the king of England and died for his faith. He spoke of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who helped others understand that Jesus thirsts for every person and wants to be their companion. Mother Teresa took this message to the poorest city in the world. He spoke, also, of Father Damien of Molokai, canonized to sainthood in the Catholic Church on Oct. 11 in Rome. Father Damien worked with patients suffering with leprosy.
“Two men and one woman who gave Jesus Christ everything,” Bishop D’Arcy noted, and he then explained, too, that everyone is called to hear Jesus Christ say, “Come and follow me.”
Those preparing for confirmation found the day uplifting.
Kaitlyn Andorfer, an eighth-grade student at St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Fort Wayne, found the prayer time helpful. “When (we) prayed, it helped me to focus on my faith and what I need to prepare for confirmation.”
Classmate Gracie Vandegriff told Today’s Catholic, “It helped me because everybody’s story is kind of like mine and you have to grow with Christ.”
As for favorite activities of the day, Andorfer liked meeting new people and prayer.
Vandegriff said, “My favorite thing is the music because it all was upbeat, but still had to do with Jesus.”
Samantha Kelty of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Wayne, enjoyed the comedy of APeX Ministries and how they got the students involved in the skits.
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