When it comes to events that present a lot of special information to a mass of people, it’s important that the message gets across. The atmosphere of the Diocesan Youth Celebration that took place Sunday, March 6th at St. Aloysius, definitely did that. The theme of the day was “Hit the Gym,” and focused on ways to exercise our faith in a variety of ways. Starting off with a mini-contest and some light breakfast, the morning kicked off a day of music, workshops, prayer, and of course, people.
After an initial meet-and-greet, groups were introduced to three different workshops: Scripture, Sacraments, and Service.
Leading the workshop of Scripture was the influential Tony Melendez and his Toe Jam Band. Born without arms, Tony travels the world spreading his music and inspiration to his audience. As well as being a talented guitarist and composer, Tony took some time sharing a short reflection between his songs, which included his favorite Bible passages. The band played original music as well as classic Christian contemporaries, with Patrick Smith playing guitar and keyboard, and Timothy Pope playing drums and keyboard bass (at the same time). And Fr. Scott sat in on one of the sessions to play with the band as well.
Sacraments were addressed by a couple of New Jersey priests, Fr. Dave Swantek and Fr. Bill Lago They used movies to help illustrate their lesson, and scenes from Harry Potter, Spiderman, The Matrix, Evan Almighty, and Napoleon Dynamite were played to the crowd, who then discussed the significance of those scenes to real life.
A group of 100 kids were part of a social experiment used to teach them about Service. They were each given a number, 1-100, and this number was used to address what the world would be like in a community of 100 people, reflective of current statistics. 61 people out of 100, for example, would be Asian. The workshop continued to share statistical information about other areas, such as poverty, hunger, and homelessness. It ended with a plea to actively serve the community, along with information about projects and organizations solely dedicated to do such.
The DYC always had something to do the entire day. With young people bouncing back and forth between three different workshops, there was always something to learn. The day ended with a mass, with Bishop David M. O’Connell in the school gym. Everyone who attended was able to see the various ways to exercise their faith at home, school and throughout their daily lives.
By Kevin DeMoura, Class of 2013