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placeholder February 4, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA

Franciscan Rev. Dave Pivonka is one of the speakers March 16.
Courtesy photo

Youth Day to ignite the fire of faith in teens

The theme of this year's Youth Day — Ignite the Fire of Faith — was set with the Year of Faith in mind. Presentations for the day, including speakers and performers are planned to help teenagers learn more about their Catholic faith.

"The Holy Father talks about rediscovery," said Rev. Dave Pivonka, who will speak to the teens at the March 16 event at Bishop O'Dowd High School. "They're Catholic, but they don't have a fuller sense of it." The Pennsylvania-based Franciscan, who is on the road speaking about 20 days a month, said he hopes his presentation will help his young audience "discover the beauty of faith, and that the Lord really does have answers."


What: Diocese of Oakland Youth Day 2013

When: March 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Where: Bishop O'Dowd High School, 9500 Stearns Ave., Oakland

Cost: $25 per person

Includes: Mass, confession, speakers, performances, games and lunch

Must: Attend with a youth group

Register: http://eastbaycatholicyouth.com
Youth Day, presented by the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Catechesis, is designed for high school students, who must attend with their parish youth group. Close to 1,000 young people have attended each of the last two Youth Days.

"Young people today need to feel they've got a voice," said Father Pivonka, "and that somebody is listening."

In his presentations, Father Pivonka often engages in dialog with the audience. Some of the questions can be pretty big. "Young people want to know if God is even relevant," he said. "Do they believe he has anything to say to their world?"

He points to a recent Pew study that showed one in three people, age 18 to 25, choose nothing when asked for religious preference.

Some of the questions are considerably smaller. Father Pivonka, who has walked the 500-mile Camino de San Diego in Spain and written a book about that 30-day journey, is sometimes asked about that. There are also relationship questions from teens.

Teens often note that Father Pivonka, in his Franciscan habit, looks different from their diocesan priests. He often fields: "Why do you dress the way you do?"

"By the nature of young people," he said, "they're inquisitive."

Providing a safe avenue for questions is part of the Youth Day experience. In such an environment, Father Pivonka said, it is possible to "create an encounter, where young people encounter Jesus, through Adoration, confessions and music that is engaging to them."

Among the other presenters scheduled for Youth Day is Thomas Awiapo of Ghana, who represents Catholic Relief Services. A collection during the day's Mass will support a Catholic Relief Services' well-building project in Africa.

Relationship issues will be a topic when the group divides up. Entertainer and speaker Jackie Francois will talk with the young men, while seminarian Timothy Glemkowski from Chicago will talk with the young women.

The Youth Day crowd will also be entertained by Paul J. Kim, a speaker and performer.

Archbishop Alex J. Brunett, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Oakland, will celebrate Mass. Confession will be available before Mass.

Patti Collyer, diocesan coordinator of youth and young adult ministry, hopes the young people will leave at the end of the day "inspired, empowered and excited to be Catholic."

"We're called to grow in our faith," she said, "to take what we learn and go out and make a difference."

She prays they will leave filled with a special kind of hope.

"Our hope isn't in this world," Collyer said. "It's bigger."

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