By Denise Fedorow
WARSAW — Approximately 300 teens from across the diocese joined together Sunday, Oct. 27, at Lakeview Middle School in Warsaw to further their journey of faith at the “Wayfarer Faithfest 2013.”
The morning began with praise and worship music to get everyone up and awake. Teens were reminded, “When we sing, we’re praying.”
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass and told the teens, “It’s always a joy to be with the young people of our diocese.”
During his homily the bishop talked about the readings of the day and how they were all about humility.
The bishop reminded the young people that “the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds” and that “the Lord hears the cry of the poor.” He explained that humility is the foundation of prayer and held up the example of the tax collector in Jesus’ parable, who prayed with true humility, as opposed to the Pharisee who pridefully praised himself when he prayed.
The bishop stressed the need for all of us to pray for God’s mercy, humbly recognizing that we are sinners. We do this at the beginning of every Mass. We even imitate the gesture of the tax collector by striking our breasts when we pray the Confiteor.”
After Mass, the popular “Text the Bishop” segment was held where attendees could text the bishop any question from the personal “How did you break your collarbone?” or “Why did you choose the religious life?” to spiritual inquiries such as “Why is premarital sex a sin?”; “How do we stay focused on Christ in a world of darkness?”; and “How do I bring back friends who left the faith?”
Lunch and expo followed the question-answer session with the bishop where students had a chance to be photographed with a saint in front of a green screen. Workshops followed that included sessions on marriage, dealing with stress in the world and why there is suffering.
Energetic keynote speaker, former teacher and coach Mike Patin had the teens involved in several activities to demonstrate the theme of wayfaring during his talk.
“Wayfarers are on a journey — searching,” he said. “Everybody on the planet is searching.”
One of the activities he called “it’s a small world” had the attendees scrambling to find someone they didn’t know and find out what they had in common. The purpose was to show that everyone is searching to be connected.
“A lot of you probably think that you’re the only freak to be Catholic in a non-Catholic school or the only one thinking of becoming a priest or the only one trying to live a chaste life,” Patin said.
He told them that he once read, “Everybody you meet loved someone, lost someone and is fighting a battle — I’d like to add everybody is searching, seeking, wayfaring.”
Then he had the kids play “Amazing Race musical chairs” where they had to race out to the audience to find something and bring it back before losing a chair.
“Sometimes the pressure of speed makes you want to find the first thing you can and I get restless when things don’t go my way,” he said.
Then he had two teens wear blindfolds while the audience shouted instructions to them to find something. He asked the teens afterwards what was the most difficult aspect of the exercise and they mentioned everybody screaming at them so they couldn’t understand any of the voices, and not being able to see.
Cindy Black, director of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry, said all the students she spoke with at the end of Faithfest said they loved the day. When asked what specifically they loved, they all chimed, “All of it!”
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