|April 9, 2012 • VOL. 50, NO. 7 • Oakland, CA|
| Groups to gather for Youth Rally
Parish youth groups meet regularly, with the same people, often in the same place, sometimes the same pizza. Despite the best efforts of a dedicated youth minister, it can all get to be routine.
Patti Collyer, coordinator of youth ministry for the Diocese of Oakland, knows something about that. She had spent many years in parish youth ministry before moving to the chancery two years ago.
She had taken groups to the Los Angeles Congress, and other youth events, requiring travel and expenses.
Sometimes, you have to shake things up closer to home.
"We need a spark," she said.
That spark ignites April 21 at James Logan High School in Union City, as youth groups serving high school students in the diocese will gather for a youth rally.
Imagine, as Collyer envisions, the energy and enthusiasm of hundreds of teenage Catholics gathered in one place. She saw that last year, when the diocese hosted a youth rally at Bishop O'Dowd High School, where 1,000 young people and chaperones spent a memorable day.
Moving the event to the Union City high school puts it in another part of the diocese, and within walking distance of the Union City BART station.
Such a gathering also gives students the opportunity to savor the diversity of the cultures that make up the Diocese of Oakland. The opportunity to see and meet many people who share their values, beyond their parish boundaries, can be an eye-opening experience.
When they see other students praying with their hands up, for example, it becomes something they might try, Collyer said.
The young people will hear from Rev. Agustino Torres, CFR, and chastity speaker Chris Stefanick. Father Torres, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal who ministers to young people on the streets of New York, wears a simple robe and brings a powerful message.
The opening ceremony will be at 10:30 a.m. Father Torres will speak at 11 a.m. Lunch, catered by the New Mecca Café of Pittsburg, will be served at noon. Games and entertainment will also be available during the noon hour. Priests will hear confession during that hour as well. The afternoon program begins at 1:15 p.m., Stefanick's talk at 1:30 p.m. After a short break, Father Torres will celebrate Mass at 3 p.m. Departure time is 4:15 p.m.
Registration is available at eastbaycatholic.com. Cost is $25 per participant. Students will attend with school or parish youth groups, in compliance with diocesan Safe Environment policy.
What does Collyer hope the students will leave with at the end of the day? She said she hopes it will "rejuvenate them and inspire them" and that they will "be challenged to go home and make a difference. How are you going to be Christ at school? Be Christ at home? Be Christ at work? Be Christ with your parents?"
Collyer's heart is clearly with the young people.
"There's a lot of joy in them," she said. She said she hopes the event will "infuse them with hope."
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