Youth shaken by the spirit, a regional gathering on evangelization

December 11, 2012

More than 1,400 youth gathered on a very blustery Friday night in November under the lights of a football stadium. The crowd worked their way into the bleachers and there was a sense of excitement in the air, but these young fans were not there to witness a football game. They were there to be witnesses for the Holy Spirit.

The 2012 Region 10 Catholic Youth Conference was held November 16 to 18 in San Angelo, Texas. With a theme of Shaken by the Spirit and the focus of evangelization, these youth began their conference experience with a Holy Spirit Pep Rally complete with cheerleaders and football players made up of the Region 10 Youth Animators, welcome speech by Bishop Michael Pfeiffer, bishop of San Angelo, inspirational coach’s talk by Tex Phelps of the Diocese of Beaumont and a full marching band courtesy of Lakeview High School in San Angelo. 

The purpose of the pep rally was to showcase how in small towns and big cities throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, which make up Region 10, people from all walks of life gather throughout the fall to celebrate and support their local team. They come together as a fan base, one body in support of their high school. Young and old alike cheer for the school, band, cheerleaders and players, they talk about the game highlights and relive the touchdowns with all they meet. Youth began to see the connection between sharing their football experiences with sharing their faith. This is the basis of evangelization, sharing the good news of Christ with all you meet. Throughout the weekend youth were challenged to explore the themes of evangelization to self, family and community/world through music, talks, activities and prayer experiences to assist them in shaking up their lives for Christ.

At the conclusion of the pep rally, youth followed the band and a special drum major, Father Tony Ricard, national speaker, author, documentarian and campus minister from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, from the stadium into the coliseum for the Friday keynote and prayer experiences. Youth were encouraged throughout the weekend to take some time with the Blessed Sacrament in the Adoration Chapel and participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Saturday, youth gathered together to hear Doug Tooke, national youth speaker for Monarch Ministries and Diocesan Director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Helena. Doug’s message was to assist the youth in understanding their baptismal call to evangelization of the family, with a focus on how the Year of Faith, can help us in that process. In the afternoon, youth had the chance to participate in workshops which provided valuable skills that would assist them in their faith journey. Workshops included evangelization to family and community, scripture, discerning your vocation, social media, dealing with issues that affect faith and evangelization just to name a few. A much-needed break was celebrated at the historic Fort Concho as youth were treated to a West Texas fiesta filled with activities and food. 

Later in the evening Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu from the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Bishop James Tamayo of the Diocese of Laredo and Bishop Pfeiffer addressed the young crowd and conveyed to them the importance of this gathering and the call to go back home and proclaim what they have seen and heard. The bishops also stressed their support and love of their brother bishops both in Region 10 and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They encouraged the youth in this Year of Faith to take part in the beautiful gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation when they return home and to invite others to the sacrament. 

During the final liturgy on Sunday, Bishop Pfeiffer with a stuffed monkey on his shoulder reminded the youth to be aware of the monkeys that lead us to sin. Using the image of the bishops as shepherd of their flock and Christ the Good Shepherd, he challenged the youth to be good sheep not bad monkeys and to assist their bishops to evangelize to all, especially their brother and sister youth to become shaken by the spirit. 

Randy Adams is an associate director with the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.