Chastity talks, adoration among fall opportunities for youth
Faith-filled gatherings for junior high and high school youth in the archdiocese will take on several different flavors this year.
An Oct. 29 rally in Columbus for students in sixth- through eighth-grade will have music, speakers, icebreakers and games, as well as adoration and procession of the Eucharist and Mass, said Sarah Ehlers, an assistant coordinator of rural faith formation in the archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, which is sponsoring the event.
The $40 cost for students, $20 for adults, includes lunch, snacks and a long-sleeve T-shirt reflecting the gathering’s theme, "Mercy Begins With Me."
The event will be a large gathering on a weekend for students who can benefit from seeing their peers enjoying themselves in a faith-filled setting, have some of their first experiences with public expressions of prayer and begin to foster a deeper relationship with Christ, said Ehlers, who also is a member of St. Bonaventure Parish in Columbus.
The 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. rally at Scotus Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School will feature musician Danny Leger of Omaha, archdiocesan vocations director Father Andrew Roza and Father Sean Kilcawley, a priest of the Lincoln diocese.
Parents or legal guardians can register students through the archdiocese’s website at archomaha.org, search for "youth rally" and follow the prompts.
Two other faith-filled approaches to reaching youth include weekday talks on chastity in Norfolk and Omaha and opportunities in several rural cities to participate in adoration of the Eucharist, with praise and worship music, a talk by an archdiocesan priest and Benediction.
For seventh-graders through seniors in high school, the events will be held on Wednesday or Thursday evenings, nights many parishes reserve for religious education (PRE) classes, making it convenient for PRE teachers to involve their students, said Jen Moser, youth ministry coordinator for the archdiocese through the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.
Moser’s office, which includes Ehlers and other rural coordinators, organizes youth rallies or similar events every other year, rotating with the National Catholic Youth Conference, which will be held in 2017 in Indianapolis.
"This year, I wanted to do something different," with the older students, Moser said. And taking advantage of nights already set aside for religious education could make it easier for teachers and students to participate, she said.
Eucharistic adoration evenings, titled Encounter, will be offered with music by Leger, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at St. Bonaventure Church in Columbus, Oct. 26 at St. Patrick Church in O’Neill, Nov. 9 at St. Michael Church in Central City and March 22 at Holy Trinity Church in Hartington.
Youth from parishes in surrounding areas of each site are particularly invited, giving them an opportunity to gather at a convenient location with a shorter drive, Moser said.
Adoration of the Eucharist might be something many youth have not experienced, and provides them an "opportunity to learn how to pray in a more personal, conversational way," she said.
The talks on chastity with Georgia-based Catholic speaker Matt Fradd, titled "The Love that Satisfies," will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at St. Mary Church in Norfolk and Nov. 17 at St. Wenceslaus Church in Omaha.
Parents are encouraged to attend both events, and the Omaha gathering – sponsored by St. Wenceslaus Knights of Columbus Council 10909 – will begin at 6 p.m. with pizza for youths and an hour-long session for parents on the dangers of pornography titled "Parenting the Internet Generation."
"Chastity is always a timely message, for kids and their parents," Moser said. "We want to help parents begin that conversation about chastity, and youth leaders, too."
And for the youth, Fradd addresses the challenge they face in a culture encouraging them to practice anything but chastity, she said.
"It’s about what love is, and what will make them happy," Moser said. "A love that will satisfy their desires – a faith-based love."