The youth group at Pittsburg's Church of the Good Shepherd performed the Passion Play during the rally.
All: josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice
'We'll feed their souls' as hundreds join rally
At right, Rev. Rolando Bartolay meeting with some students, was one of 17 priests and the archbishop who participated.
About 700 high school students and their chaperones converged on Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland on March 16 for the third annual IGNITE — Investigate God's Never-Ending Invitation to Eternity — youth rally.
Among the earliest-risers of the day were the 75 students from the youth group at Pittsburg's Church of the Good Shepherd, who performed the Passion Play during the rally's morning session.
The young people also heard from Thomas Awiapo of Catholic Relief Services. As a hungry, orphaned child in Ghana, he smelled food at a Catholic Relief Services-sponsored school. He started attending school for the snack. The education he received has helped him become a Catholic Relief Services worker in his country. He often travels to the United States during Lent to show churches and groups the difference their contributions to CRS Rice Bowl make.
More than a dozen priests from the Diocese of Oakland spaced themselves near benches, statues and shady trees on the high school's quad, ready to hear students' confessions during the lunch hour in anticipation of the 3:30 p.m. Mass by Archbishop Alex J. Brunett, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Oakland.
"After they feed their stomachs, we'll feed their souls," said Father George Mockel, vicar general of the Diocese of Oakland, as he waited to hear confessions.
"It's a great thing," Father Robert Mendonça said of the youth rally. The pastor of St. Michael Parish in Livermore taught middle school for 13 years, and high school for three, before becoming a priest.
Father Carl Arcosa, chaplain of the Divine Mercy Ministry and Apostolate of the diocese, moved among groups of young people, offering them free prayer cards and pamphlets on the devotion.
Debbie Lawson, was helping to chaperone the Good Shepherd youth group, who would be debuting the Passion Play for friends and family the next night. The students, wearing T-shirts printed with the name of the play and the cast, were grateful for the opportunity to present the Passion Play for their peers at IGNITE, and pleased by the response.
Nisa Lacey, 16, a junior from the Good Shepherd group, said the crowd "was bigger than we're used to."
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