Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
More than 1,000 youth gather for Steubenville Northwest conference
the Inland Register
(From the Aug. 18, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Youth from St. Michael Parish, Olympia, were among those participating in a series of service projects as part of the Steubenville youth conference. (IR photo courtesy of Ann Winkler)
Powerful rock music, exuberant teenagers, laughter and prayers filled the Spokane Convention Center the last weekend of July at the annual Steubenville Northwest Catholic Youth Conference, hosted by Spiritus Ministries. The more than 1,000 young Catholics participating celebrated the power and vibrancy of their Catholic faith while drawing closer to God and strengthening one another.
“Rooted” was the theme of the weekend, emblazoned on T-shirts and proclaimed by banners. Prayer, praise music, small group time, and inspiring talks guided the youth to sink their roots deep into God’s love, mercy and discipleship. Teens swayed, hugged and shouted their prayers as they celebrated their common Catholic faith.
The Ike Ndolo band returned to provided powerful praise and liturgical music. Judy McDonald and Chris Padgett, comedians and inspirational speakers, had the teens doubled over in laughter as they dove deeper into their faith. A candle-lit procession and adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament filled the evening hours, led by Father José Robles-Sanchez of Louisiana. After quiet prayer, a deep stillness soaked with grace, descended on the crowd as they intoned The Divine Praises. The evenings ended with teens waiting in long lines for over an hour to attend confession.
Sunday morning, young men and women came forward, filling the stage to request the prayers of the community as they continue to discern a vocation to the priesthood or Religious life.
Daily concelebrated mass was capped off by Sunday morning’s Mass, celebrated by Bishop Cupich. Youth worshiped actively as they soaked in the message of his homily: Come to Jesus; let him be the entire focus of your life; give everything to him.
The teens were so moved by the opportunity for a vibrant immersion in the Catholic faith, that they had what many might consider surprising comments. The best parts of the conference, many reported, were Mass, adoration and confession.
The youth enjoyed the pulsating worship music, they were delighted by the hilarious speakers, but they were moved by the prayer and sacraments.
As another part of the Conference, 142 teens volunteered for a variety of service projects in coordination with Catholic Charities Spokane.
At the Delany and Cathedral Apartments, several teens spent the morning cleaning and helping the residents with household tasks. Another team helped to pack up items for a resident who was moving. In different areas of Spokane, lawn care teams dispersed to care for the lawns of the 36 homes while others scraped and painted a house.
One homeowner commented that her yard looked like a park back when she could walk. Youth from St. Francis Parish in Sherwood, Ore., unloaded their 15-passenger van of tools and began to work on her yard. “So many people need help. I think it’s wonderful that the kids are volunteering... just wonderful,” she said.
The day of service did not include pizza or water balloon fights. Instead, the day ended quietly with prayer and reflection. A tired group of young people left for home more fully aware of the truth of Pope John Paul II’s words: “Genuinelove … is demanding … but its beauty lies precisely in the demands it makes.” (Cuba, 1998)