Joe Zambon gave the crowd some tips on how to praise and worship at last year’s Steubenville Toronto conference in Roy Thomson Hall. Photo by Jean Ko Din

Toronto musician will be featured at SteubieTO 2016

  • January 8, 2016

TORONTO - After importing talent in previous years, Canada’s largest Catholic youth conference will have a made-in-Canada label this summer.

Toronto-based musician Joe Zambon has been selected to lead praise and worship at Steubenville Toronto, becoming the first Canadian ever to lead the ministry team at the annual event.

“I’m going to be the new guy in the roster,” said Zambon. “At this point, I’m just excited to be on the team and looking forward to meeting the rest of them.”

Zambon and his band appeared as a welcoming act at last year’s Steubenville Toronto conference at Roy Thomson Hall, playing a small set to warm up the crowd. He then shadowed the worship team led by the U. S.-based Josh Blakesley and his band, and got a glimpse of how the ministry team functions behind the scenes.

“It was good to just see how they do that as a team together,” said Zambon. “They ask each other what is your sense on what they need to hear... to just move where they feel like the Lord is kind of leading.”

Featuring homegrown talent has always been the plan for Steubenville Toronto, according to Fr. Frank Portelli, director of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth (OCY). Portelli said he wants to eventually grow a pool of local speakers and musicians to form the core of the conference’s annual ministry team.

“We won’t have anyone shadowing the speakers from our own pool because it’s not really the same as the music situation,” he said. “What we want to do is we want to bring them to this point of elevating them to speak at this conference.”

Portelli said one way the OCY is developing that speaker pool is by assessing speakers in the OCY’s smaller programs, such as EDGE Camp and Youth Ministry Training Day.

“To be able to highlight people from within our archdiocese is obviously always a nice feather in our cap,” said Eamonn Doyle, OCY program coordinator. “It’s ministering to the teens and the youth, but it’s also for the betterment for our own leaders in youth ministry.”

Doyle said the planning committee at OCY is excited about the upcoming summer conference. Ennie Hickman, president of Adore Ministries, will be the host for the weekend. Fr. Richard O’Donnell, former director of youth ministry at the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, is this year’s ministry team priest. Conference speakers include “theological comedian” Katie Prejean, youth speaker and beatboxer Paul J. Jim and Mysterium Records founder Jimmy Mitchell.

The third annual Steubenville Toronto youth conference will be held July 22-24 at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ont. This will be the first year that the conference will be held outside of downtown Toronto and on a university campus.

The conference is based on a model created by Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio in 1976. Since then, Steubenville conferences have been held annually in 19 cities across North America.

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I took youth to Steubenville for more then 10 years...I think it's needed to show our youth that they need the love of christ ...may the Holy spirit keep the conferences alive

Robert anning
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