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September 13, 2009

Festival of Faith packed with events Organizers share highlights for youth, married couples at Oct. 16-17 event Youth focus: Yes, we can

By Thomas Howard

Perhaps you have heard the Spanish phrase “Si se puede” while at a parade or a march for immigrant rights. “Si se puede” translates into English as “Yes, we can” and is a phrase commonly evoked by groups desiring courage in the face of the unknown. Repeating, “Yes, we can, Yes, we can,” often inspires groups to do things that they never thought were possible.

The youth-track workshop at the upcoming Catholic Festival of Faith epitomizes the slogan of “Yes, we can” in more ways than one.

In the face of a rough economy and parish budget cuts, organizing youth ministry faces difficult challenges as well as exciting opportunities. Now more than ever, those who have a heart for the youth need to be reminded of St. Paul’s words, “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14).

Vital ministry

Youth-track workshops will both highlight what is working well in youth ministry as well as provide opportunities for valuable networking.

“Youth ministry is vital to our archdiocese. It is our hope that those involved with youth ministry, both the young and the old, can reconnect with the love of Christ and be impelled to do magnificent and noble things at their parishes with their youth,” said Father Richard Hynes, director of the Office of Evangelization, Catechesis and Worship and organizer of the Catholic Festival of Faith.

Nationally renowned speaker and singer ValLimar Jansen will kick off the festivities for the youth as the general keynote speaker. Jansen will guide youth through movement and song to reconnect them with the power, passion and presence of Jesus Christ in the world today.

Next, participants will choose from eight different youth-track workshops. For groups interested in music and dance ministry, St. Martin de Porres and St. Ailbe parishes are ready to teach you how to get your youth twisting and shouting.

Perhaps you want to build a bridge between your youth and their elders. Then you won’t want to miss St. Agatha’s and Vicariate III core member’s workshops.

Priests gifted in youth ministry will lead three workshops. First, Scalabrinian Father Leandro Fossa will share how restoring a 1964 Chevrolet Impala restored the faith of the youth at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Second, Salesian Father Osvaldo Gullien and his team will explain through music and drama how the spirituality of St. John Bosco is transforming the lives of hundreds of young people.

Finally, Father Matt Eyerman from St. Columbanus Parish will draw upon the U.S. bishop’s documents and reflect upon comprehensive youth ministry.

Practical tips

Youth from Vicariate III will share how becoming core members in youth ministry programs has enabled them to not only deliver great programs for youth at their parishes, but also professionally develop themselves in the art of youth ministry. The S.A.F.E. program from St. Agatha in Vicariate III plans to “bring down the house” with its talented youth and dedicated adult volunteers, offering a workshop on practical ways to make youth work in your neighborhood.

The North-Side Kairos team will share their experience of organizing a vicariate-wide retreat experience that transforms young lives and encourages on-going faith formation.

After the workshops, Spirit Juice Studios and Xtreme Dance Force will provide a party for the youth. To culminate the day’s activities, Mass will be celebrated.

Registration is now open for the Catholic Festival of Faith. To see full descriptions of youth-track workshops and to register, please visit

Howard is the archdiocese’s youth ministry coordinator for Vicariate IV.

Couple’s night focus: Celebration