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Above, eighth-graders Bryce Foreman, left, Benjamin Juarez and Nicolas Schultz of Scotus Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Columbus work with the hula hoop game at an Oct. 29 youth rally at the school. Below, Father Sean Kilcawley talks to students at the youth rally. Photos by Mallory O’Hearn, Scotus Journalism.

Music, games, prayer highlight youth rally for faith in Columbus

Working and playing with others, learning that it’s OK to make mistakes – God’s love and forgiveness remain – and meeting new people.

Those were some of the highlights for two students among 159 sixth- through eighth-graders attending an Oct. 29 rally for the faith in Columbus.

The day included eucharistic adoration, faith-filled music, Mass, and talks from Father Anthony Roza, archdiocesan vocations director, and Father Sean Kilcawley, a priest of the Lincoln diocese.

"It’s a great experience to learn new things and expand your faith," Ethan Keller, a seventh-grader at St. Francis School in Humphrey, said about the rally, where he also made new friends. "I learned a lot about working together with other people."

Included in that challenge was a hula hoop exercise with students holding hands and passing the large hoops around without breaking the circle, Ethan said.

Janae Rusher, an eighth-grader at Scotus Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School, where the rally was held, said she loved the music, and learning about God’s love.

"It’s OK to mess up sometimes," she said. "And if you do, God will forgive you. You’re OK."

That kind of faith-filled message is important for students to hear, said Sarah Ehlers, an assistant coordinator of rural faith formation in the archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, which sponsored the event.

And it was the kind of message Father Kilcawley shared as he spoke about growing up in a difficult family situation and learning that "everyone is broken in some way," Ehlers said.

Difficulties with self-worth can lead to addictions such as pornography and it is important for students to know they are valued, no matter what their circumstances, Ehlers said.

Father Roza’s talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit also resonated with the students as it reflected on wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord, Ehlers said.

It was a particularly important message for the many students who are preparing for confirmation, she said.

"These gifts give us the tools to handle the difficulties of every day, to persevere in faith," Ehlers said. "To know they are loved by Christ, and that is something they can share with one another and help one another."

Father Roza also talked about his grandmother making apple pie for him, despite pain caused by the arthritis in her hands, Ehlers said. He compared that to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, knowing his sacrifice would help those he loves, Ehlers said.

Mass, with Father Kilcawley presiding and Father Roza the homilist, closed the day that began at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m., Ehlers said.

The students were tired, but "you could see how they were engaged in the holy Mass," Ehlers said.

Janae said she was impressed by the Mass, with both priests celebrating and all of the students gathered around.

"It was really cool," she said. "It was huge."

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