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  November 20 , 2006 • VOL. 44, NO. 20 • Oakland, CA

articles list

Spirited youth declare it’s ‘cool to be Catholic’

New administrator for St. Anne Parish in Walnut Creek

Local charities deliver their holiday wish lists

Alameda parish welcomes pastor of sister parish in El Salvador

Friends of Father Augustine Tolton

Oaxacans pledge non-violence in protest against government

Catholics embrace campaign to end extreme global poverty and hunger

Collection aims to help
pay for needs of retired Sisters and Brothers

Ecumenical service in San Francisco

Pope Benedict to visit Turkey next week

'The Nativity Story'
When filming about Jesus’ birth, animals don’t always follow the script

Sister M. Rita Bernard, CSC

Sister Josephine Martin Young, CSJ

























Spirited youth declare it’s ‘cool to be Catholic’

Four years ago, a group of youth ministers brainstormed a collective dream. Concerned that there were no diocesan-wide gatherings for young people, they began looking for ways to organize a day-long youth rally.

They envisioned it as a Saturday gathering featuring music, prominent keynote presenters, food, liturgy, and a dance. All were designed to give kids a glimpse into what it means to belong to a larger Church, where “people their age truly believe in Christ and find it cool to be Catholic,” said Teena Posas, youth minister at St. Joseph Parish in Pinole.

“We weren’t even sure how serious we were about doing it or if it could even be done,” recalls Sheila Herger, a parish volunteer at Transfiguration Parish in Castro Valley. “We had no money, no resources. What we did have were prayers, the energy of youth ministers and God on our side.”

The combination was enough of a kick-start to get them going. Once the word got out, pastors offered free space. Volunteers, both adult and youth, stepped forward. Since then, much to the youth leaders’ grateful astonishment, the southern Alameda County regional rally has been packing in kids like bees to honey for the past three years.

The most recent, held Oct. 28 at St. Bede Church in Hayward, attracted over 650 young people from parishes in Fremont, Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Union City, Rodeo, Pinole, Castro Valley, and Alameda.

Attendance has increased each year, said Jim Soltau, director of youth ministry at St. Anne Parish in Union City.

In 2004, the rally was held at St. Leander Church in San Leandro and drew 500 kids. Last year’s rally, at St. Joachim’s in Hayward, brought in 550 participants.

“We’re going strong,” notes Herger. Heartened by the turnout, the planning committee is hoping that a future rally can be opened up to all diocesan youth, providing the group can find a large enough venue to accommodate them.

Vibes from the Oct. 28 day are still pulsating.
“When we give kids avenues to express themselves, they will – with joy, excitement and a lot of noise. And they’ll blow our socks off,” Herger said.

Facilitating the sock-blasting activities were keynote speakers: Jesse Manibusan, liturgical composer and musician, and Anna Scally, president of Cornerstone Ministry in Santa Rosa.

The two explored Jesus’ question to Bartemaeus, the blind beggar, “What do you want me to do for you?” and his command to the healed man, “Go your way: Your faith has saved you.”

Manibusan had the youth sing along with him in melodies and words which underscored the question. Scally gave the group interactive, zany ice-breaking activities and skits to participate in, providing the teens with opportunities to meet new people.

“She gave them a way to open up to each other and share their faith experiences,” said Lucy Soltau, director of youth ministry at Corpus Christi Parish in Fremont. “And, of course, music always motivates teenagers.
Singing, dancing, liturgy and prayer with a variety of music was a great unifier,” she underlined.

Noy Hernandez, a junior at San Jose State, was ecstatic about the music, which both Manibusan and Scally tied into their sessions. “Their workshops were like magic and Disneyland,” Hernandez said. “When Jesse Manibusan would strap on his guitar and start singing and the whole congregation of youth would just stand out of pure love for the Church, that is magic.”

One of the skits, planned by a diocesan youth committee, had the kids don masks, “to signify the different personalities we as teens tend to hide behind,” said Allen Paulo, a junior at Pinole Valley High School and a member of St. Joseph’s. Paulo, who served on the planning committee, said the group decided to include masks since the rally was so close to Halloween. “The masks signified the different personalities in which we tend to hide behind, trying to become popular and cool.”

Stephanie Corona, a Diablo Valley College freshman, added, “We feel vulnerable if people know who we really are, so we put on a face, a mask, a façade.”

At one point, the youth were invited to throw away their masks “to exemplify the showing of our true selves and the acceptance of who we are and what we stand for,” said Paulo.

“As much as we have to hear it again, it’s important to love ourselves the way we are, which encompasses both our talents and our weaknesses,” said Corona.

Both Corona and Paulo agreed that the rally expanded their respective takes on what it means to be a Catholic Christian in today’s world. Said Corona: “I realized the extent to which society clashes with our Catholic faith. Not only does society emphasize individualism through its advertisements, but it also induces putting on a front.”

While individuals can’t beat society in this kind of competition, said the Diablo Valley student, “we can lead by example in our everyday lives, with the struggles we face, the people we meet and the decisions we make.”

Paulo said his interpretation of the Bartemaeus Scripture reading has expanded since the weekend.

“I learned how Jesus accepted all. Through what he did and his perception of acceptance, I immediately viewed the whole world as my family. I was fascinated at how Jesus was able to drop everything to stop and listen to someone in need. And not only listening and talking to someone, but uplifting the burden that Bartemaeus carried. I want to have the heart of Jesus, willing to accept everyone as family in his name.”

A group of youth rally participants show their spirit.


T eens pray during the youth rally Mass at St. Bede Church.


Teens talk about their faith during one of the youth rally exercises in the gym at St. Bede Church.


Musician Jesse Manibusan, joined by a group of teens, leads participants in an energetic song.


Three teens perform a skit about the masks teens wear to protect themselves from being known for who they are.


Bishop Emeritus John Cummins accepts the financial offering during the presentation of gifts.


Teens lead their peers in the Prayers of the Faithful.


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The rally included a liturgy, concelebrated by Bishop Emeritus John Cummins and pastors from the participating parishes. Laureen Aguayo, youth ministry coordinator from St. Clement’s School of Religion, said the clergy also attended dinner in the social hall. “Let me tell you, that alone impressed the kids to know the bishop and priests were eating with them.”

Aguayo, who was part of the food committee, expressed her gratitude to Father Seamus Farrell, St. Bede’s pastor, whom she credits as being a constant support for the group, from the initial planning of the rally to the last moment of the actual day. Said Mariano Jauco, youth minister at St. John Parish in San Lorenzo, “I was amazed and humbled to see a pastor climb up a ladder to hand banners. Not bad for an elder. It was definitely the Holy Spirit holding him up.”

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