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placeholder Catholics to show appreciation for public safety workers

Voice collection is next month

East Bay youths share World Youth Day experiences

Preparing for the trip to Rio was a parishwide effort

'A spark that lit up my faith'

Pope, youths leave lasting impression

Work of CCEB refugee program praised

Chautauqua collection to aid grieving Richmond family

Bocce tournament raises $17,000 to feed the hungry in Contra Costa

St. Michael School turns 100

Sept. 9 feast of St. Peter Claver

Trio visits former administrator

Celebrate 5's spirit of aloha

Sister M. Martin Moran

Sister Dorothy Casper, OP

A gathering of, and by, survivors

Meet school representatives at College Fair

Early admission program enters third year at HNU

Degree completion, master's programs vibrant part of HNU

Profile of 'passionately Catholic' Franciscan University of Steubenville

Saint Mary's College embarks on life as a 'college that changes lives'

A day to remember

Benedictine College ranked by U.S. News

All Saints, Cal State ministry to celebrate Mass

Campus ministry ready to help college youth in faith connection

Loyola Marymount University's film school among top 10 in US

placeholder September 9, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
'A spark that lit up my faith'

This was my first experience of World Youth Day, and it was completely unexpected. Though I understood the circumstances of a pilgrimage, every aspect of the trip was a surprise. During this trip I encountered various trials, struggles and obstacles. But through it all it brought me back hungry, wanting to know more about my faith, and most importantly, God.

On this trip, there were several life-changing experiences. The most memorable experience in this extravaganza of miracles is the moment I laid my eyes on the pope. He was passing by in his popemobile, waving and smiling with a burst of enthusiasm. As he passed, he was only 5 or 6 feet away from me. It was a short glance, but my eyes locked on him and nothing else. Though this moment was a couple seconds long, it seemed like a lifetime. In that, something triggered in me as he lifted up his hand to bless all of us. This overran all the marvelous testimonies and teachings I had heard that same week. Nothing more prominently could have invited me to pick up my cross, and answer the calling of the Lord. The pope's invitation had put up a spark that lit up my faith for the Lord, and lit up my heart to passionately answer His call and do His will.

Though I am a youth minister and I am used to going to retreats, this was beyond anything that I could ever comprehend. This pilgrimage became a beacon of light for this generation and I wanted to be a part of it. I believe that a revolution has begun, and it's time to make God's name known. I came to this pilgrimage with an open mind, wanting anything that God could give. In return, God gave me a new understanding, a future and a hope.

(Aaron Cornejo, 16, is a junior at Heritage High School, a youth minister for YFL (Youth for Family and Life) and "a proud, devoted parishioner of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Brentwood.")

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