ADAMS: Annual junior high rally aims to engage Catholic youth

January 15, 2019

Do you know a junior high youth who seeks adventure to serve the Church, explore their faith while having fun and meeting other youth from throughout the Archdiocese?

Then invite them to the 2019 Archdiocesan Junior High Youth Rally sponsored by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization. The rally is open to all youth in grades sixth through eighth, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in The Woodlands.

This year’s theme is “Classified” based on Luke 1:38, “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’”

It is the same Scripture passage for the 2019 World Youth Day, which will be held in Panama in this month. Since it is “Classified,” the theme will not be completely revealed until the day of the rally, when we will explore the implications of Mary’s call to say yes to our Lord! We will break open our theme through dynamic keynote and general sessions, service experiences, workshops and challenging community building, along with prayer experiences and the celebration of the Mass.

This year we are excited to have Steve Angrisano as our keynote speaker. A veteran musician and composer, Angrisano has been featured at six World Youth Days, National Catholic Youth Conferences, and many other events for youth, Angrisano’s unique blend of humor, song, story and interaction engage audiences of all ages.

One of the highlights of the rally is the service project experience. Youth will be able to pick from seven different hands-on service opportunities which benefit their local parish, community or a variety of organizations in Archdiocese and beyond.

Youth are encouraged to bring back their service experience to their family, parish or school and inspire others to continue in the mission of service by adopting the same activities or creating new service opportunities. 

This year, youth will explore the importance of vocations by hearing personal faith stories from priests, religious, married couples and those committed to the single life. They will share their vocation story and how they serve the Church today.

Youth will also be challenged to deepen their faith with several interactive prayer experiences throughout the day, The event concludes the rally with Holy Mass. 

The day will be filled with fun and fellowship. During the rally, participants will take part in a Grand Midway carnival of games and prizes, inflatables, crafts, and other activities, along with Saturday evening entertainment to help them meet and engage with other young people. Youth will also be provided two youth friendly meals for lunch and dinner during the rally. 

So why is this type of gathering important? Over the past three years, we have heard a lot about young people becoming disfranchised with the Church. They feel lost or don’t see the importance of the Church in their life today. A recent book by St. Mary’s Press called “Going, Going, Gone” by Robert J. McCarty, PhD, and John M. Vitek, MA explore these issues. 

The book is based on an unprecedented report on why young people leave the Catholic Church, and is based on the comprehensive national study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown and Saint Mary’s Press that found disaffiliation with the Church can begin as young as age 13.

As a result of this and other informational studies, dialogues, and even the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocation Discernement, the Church realizes that it is imperative that young people, along with their parents, catechetical leaders, pastors, the parish and their dioceses, are provided enriching experiences which will help young people explore, articulate their Catholic faith by sharing their stories, and incorporate their gifts to serve the Church and to help them grow in their discipleship. 

The base registration cost is $35 and covers the program festivities, two meals, t-shirt, and Saturday entertainment (cost may vary if parishes are providing transportation, parish shirts, etc..).

First registration deadline is Jan. 25 with late registration ($45) available until Feb. 8. Youth must register through their parish or Catholic School. Scholarships are available.

To find out more about the rally contact your parish catechetical leader/youth minister or the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization at 713-741-8723. 

Randy Adams is an associate director in the Archdiocesan office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization and director of the Camp Kappe Youth Facility.