Three October rallies to draw young people to faith
Junior high and high school youth from across the archdiocese will gather in large, faith-filled rallies next month - in Pierce, Omaha and Columbus.
"It's a great way for them to celebrate their faith in a larger context," said Rita Ramos, youth ministry coordinator in the archdiocese's Office of Evangelization and Catechesis (OEC).
The junior high rally in Pierce will be the first of its kind held in the rural area since an urban rally for seventh- and eighth-graders started in 2009, although the rural event has been discussed the last several years, she said.
"It's certainly a great year to begin something like this," Ramos said, referring to the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, which begins Oct. 11 and is designed to help Catholics deepen and share their faith.
Organizers hope about 200 seventh- and eighth-grade students will register for the Oct. 20 rally at St. Joseph Church in Pierce, said Jan Kunz, one of OEC's four rural assistant coordinators. Titled "Faith Uncovered," the gathering will feature a mystery trip through the faith with music missionary Greg Boudreaux and Brian Butler, co-founder and president of Dumb Ox Productions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to chastity and vocation formation for teens and young adults.
Six days earlier - Oct. 14 - an urban seventh- and eighth-grade rally will be held at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha.
Titled "Clue: Unravel the Secrets," the gathering will play off the popular board game of the same name, with participants trying to answer questions about past and present witnesses to the faith, said Jenni Vankat, youth minister at St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn.
About 300 students attended last year's get together, also at St. Robert Bellarmine, Vankat said. A similar rally was held in 2009 but not in 2010.
The high school rally will be held Oct. 28 at Scotus Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Columbus. Titled "Faith: Bold and Courageous," it will feature Tony Melendez, a native of Nicaragua who was born without arms and plays guitar with his feet, and Doug Brummel, a Catholic comedian and storyteller with Colorado-based "Lighten Up! Ministries."
The high school rally has been held for more than three decades, rotating between urban and rural areas. More than 650 people attended in 2008, the last time it was held in Columbus. The rally is held every other year in the archdiocese because it alternates with the National Catholic Youth Conference as part of National Celebration of World Youth Day.