October 28, 2010 // Local

Youth ‘Fearless’ at FaithFest

Jay Horning, arms raised high in the air, was a first time attendee at FaithFest and was looking forward to the speakers and the sessions. Horning is a youth director at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne.

By Denise Fedorow

WARSAW — Youth around the diocese were encouraged to be fearless at this year’s FaithFest held Sunday at Lakeview Middle School in Warsaw. “Fearless” was the theme for the annual event and was based on the Scripture from 1 Jn. 4:18, “There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear.”

The morning started out high energy as Chris Padgett got the 420 teens and chaperones going with “some crazy Jesus songs.”

Padgett is a songwriter, musician, speaker and worship leader who travels around the world giving talks, missions and concerts. He was a founding member of the popular Christian band, Scarecrow and Tinmen, has four solo albums to his credit and has won the Unity Award for best Catholic rock song. His zany sense of humor had the audience laughing when Franciscan Father David Mary Engo came on stage to pray with the teens and Padgett quipped, “Did you guys see him? It was either a brown Smurf or a Franciscan.”

Padgett shared a story about being given an award his senior year of high school for “most unique personality,” which he said “meant freak of nature.”

He spoke of asking a popular girl out on a date and they got married five years later and now have eight kids and all the kids are different.
“Just like everyone here is different. God wants to love us all in our unique way,” he said. “There’s no need for another St. Therese, we already have one. There’s a need for a ‘Saint You.’”

Padgett said there were three main points he wanted the kids to remember:

• Jesus picked me — because there is no one just like you.

• Jesus prepares me —“God decided to use my weirdness to speak around the world,” he said. Even if all your friends are doing something else, go do and live what you’re supposed to.”

• Jesus protects me — using the story of Saul and David and Goliath, Padgett illustrated how, because of David’s faith, he slew the giant and was protected.

“If you wimp out, God picks someone else,” he said.

Jay Horning, the youth director from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne, was a first-time attendee and said he was looking forward to the keynote speakers and different sessions.

Stephanie Loney from Sacred Heart Parish in Warsaw said she’s attended a couple of years in the past and what she likes most about FaithFest is that it is “a way during the year to reconnect with your faith.”

The group then divided up for a basic introduction of Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. Mary Bielski and her roommate Liz Cotrupi encouraged the girls to “leave all your issues behind — boyfriends, moms, homework and dig deep into your Catholic faith,” Bielski said.

Mary Bielski graduated from Marquette University with a double major in theology and psychology. As a volunteer youth minister for 10 years and founder of All4Him ministries in 2006, Mary travels and speaks around the nation at high school retreats.

Theology of the body is a collection of 129 general audience speeches Pope John Paul II gave on love, life and human sexuality. Bielski spoke about all the media messages that are focused on beauty and sex and said God loves us as we are.

“It’s so freeing to know we don’t have to meet all those requirements,” she said. And when you know that you’re less likely to get involved with a guy who doesn’t honor you.”

After lunch, there were workshops on the following topics that the youth chose from: “Fear No Evil, Gone Viral, Out of Darkness, Ok, Go (evangelization) Blood of the Martyrs, The “S” word (why is there suffering?) and Legit.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who had recently returned from a pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization of Holy Cross Brother St. André Bessette, spoke of the new saint in his homily at the closing Mass that followed a question-answer session.

In the homily, Bishop Rhoades told the high school students and chaperones that the theme of the Sunday readings is prayer.

In the Gospel, Bishop Rhoades said, “Jesus gives us the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector to teach us something extremely important about prayer — namely, that ‘humility is the foundation of prayer.’”

The Pharisee and the tax collector had very different internal dispositions, Bishop Rhoades told the young people.

“The Pharisee,” he said, “was filled with pride. He didn’t pray to God with love for God. He was completely self-centered.”

The Pharisee told about all his supposedly good and upright behavior, and that he wasn’t like the rest of humanity and not like the tax collector.

Yet the tax collector was presented by Jesus as an example of authentic prayer. “True prayer springs from a humble and contrite heart,” Bishop Rhoades said.

He told the young people about St. André Bessette and how the new saint’s life exemplified humility. Because of the saint’s lack of education, he was made a doorkeeper at the College of Notre Dame in Montreal. Yet, over 40 years, many would come to Brother André with their struggles in life, their illnesses, and, through Brother André’s intercessory prayers to St. Joseph, many were cured of their illnesses. Brother André would get upset if someone claimed that they were cured by the Holy Cross brother.

Bishop Rhoades encouraged the young people to follow the example of St. André and the prayer example of the tax collector.
Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction followed the Mass.

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