Teens 'lift Jesus higher' in Toronto

By  Dominique Bennett, Youth Speak News
  • April 27, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Hundreds of Ontario youth congregated in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for fellowship and praise at Catholic Renewal Ministries’ Lift Jesus Higher Youth Rally April 18.

This annual event, held in conjunction with the adult rally, drew 1,500 youth to celebrate this year’s theme, Divine Mercy.

Fifteen-year-old Oriana Vanderfleet, from St. John of the Cross parish in Mississauga, said she attended the all-day rally because it would be an interesting experience.

“The fact that there would be all youth, I thought it would be a cool new experience to meet new people, get more connected with God and learn more about my faith,” she said.

The rally encompassed the topics of freedom, fellowship and faith all into one fun and exciting event which included numerous lively praise and worship sessions with the help of the energetic youth band from Hanover, Ont., the Mustard Seeds. The band performed upbeat renditions of well-known songs and a few originals which all received great feedback from the crowd. The youth showed excitement about God, openly singing, clapping and making a joyful noise unto the Lord as the band played. Youth from Sacred Heart parish in Thornhill, Ont., were particularly inspired as they danced in worship, running around the entire hall during the Mustard Seeds’ opening performance of their song “I Am Free,” breaking the ice for other youth to join in worship.

The youth event featured one intriguing and educational event after anther, including a humorous skit titled I Am Alive. It depicted Jesus’ sacrifice for us through the crucifixion, explaining that we no longer have to bear our problems alone because of God’s divine mercy.

“The skit was interesting and funny. Although it was short it had a good message that really got through,” Vanderfleet said.

The day’s four talks were delivered by Tim Staples, Craig Pohl, Pete Burak and Debbie Herbeck.

Fifteen-year-old Joey Surrao from Gethsemane Youth Ministry said the talks differed from the ones traditionally received at his home parish, Annunciation, because the speakers were more animated.

“The speakers take a different appeal, meaning that you can tell that since they are directed at youth they’re trying to make it something you can do every day,” he said. “There is less knocking you down.”

Staples’ humourous talk kept the youth intrigued while he spoke about the renewal of the mind based on Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” He explained that our modern culture believes we are “mush heads” and cannot think for ourselves.

“This is the world dissing you,” Staples said.

He said the fact that condoms are so easily accessible means that the world believes youth cannot control themselves.

“Stand up to the world and say ‘I am not a monkey!’ We cannot allow ourselves to look at ourselves the way that the world does,” he said. “We have to renew our minds.”

One of the other talks examined the importance of Confession, giving hundreds of youth the opportunity to attend reconciliation that afternoon.

The day’s events concluded with an evening Mass.

“(This rally) brings you closer to other youth if you don’t go to a youth group. You get to see what others do and you participate” said Surrao.

(Bennett, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Senator O’Connor College High School.)

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